Colchester, VT — Vermont families across the state lined up at 51 sites to pick up free COVID-19 test kits for their kids before students return to school next week.

In Colchester, site supervisor Jeremy Smith said his team had over 6,000 rapid antigen test kits ready to distribute. Today marked the first of the two-day giveaway and Smith said it was a busy one.

“We set up yesterday, we were here at 5:30 am to get final details set up, we opened up at 7:00 am, we’re going to 6:00 pm. I think the last count a few hours ago was about 1800.”

Cars piled in early at the Colchester sites but parents didn’t have to wait very long compared to some of the lines at other giveaway sites for the general public.

“Between our crew, our setup and the DMV, traffic was pretty minimal actually, pretty efficient. Set up crew was getting information from people before we give them the test, and it worked out pretty well actually,” said Smith.

All of the 51 sites will be open tomorrow from 7:00 am to 10:00 am and from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. In regards to how parents can prepare ahead of time to help keep the lines moving, Smith said, “The biggest thing for us is just be registered. It’ll save everybody a whole lot of time. Just come in, say ‘I’m registered’, they can even show us the paper if they have it, or have their registration on their phone handy, that would be just as good and just let us know what you need for kids, we’re going to take down your name, how many kids you have, and send you on through to get your tests.”

Secretary of Education Dan French said that by mid-January, schools will take over as distribution centers. “Under our expanded school program, when students need access to antigen tests, schools will be able to provide those tests to families for their students, and the parents not the schools will be responsible for administering the tests at home. That’s a major change that we’re going to see.”