Schools hoping to offer more COVID-19 testing soon | WHEC.com

Schools hoping to offer more COVID-19 testing soon

Jennifer Lewke
Created: September 30, 2021 06:23 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The number of COVID-19 cases in school-aged children is on the rise locally. Combine that with a spike in RSV cases, and pediatric offices are swamped. In an effort to help, local counties are trying to give parents more testing options in school.

Right now, if a student shows a symptom of COVID-19 while at school, he or she is normally sent home and required to go to their pediatrician for a test. In order to return to school, a negative PCR test is required which can take days.

“This means kids are not always getting back in class in a timely manner which is making it tough to keep schools running smoothly and keep students where they belong which is in the classroom,” said Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza.  

That’s why a number of our local counties are buying systems to give to school districts that can run the more thorough tests in 15 to 45 minutes.

“If a student develops a symptom in the middle of the day rather than sending them home and making the family take them to a primary care doctor to get a COVID test before they can come to school, we're trying to provide diagnostic testing,” said Ontario County Administrator Chris DeBolt. “So the symptomatic students can go down to the nurse, they can do a rapid PCR test and then they can either go home and be isolated or potentially go back to the classroom.”

The only issue is the availability of materials for this type of testing.

“We have the machines, we do not have the test kits…we've ordered them, we've been told 1 to 2 weeks lead time but there are questions about what our continued ability to get those supplies will be,” DeBolt said.

In the meantime, most schools across the region will begin surveillance testing among students and staff who want it, next week.  This is rapid-testing of people who are non-symptomatic, “the schools have picked up their supplies, I believe they're finalizing the process of selecting those students who have consented and who are eligible and staff to do the testing and I understand that they're going to be going live with that next week,” Dr. Mendoza said.

Click here to track COVID19 cases in your school district.


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