NEWARK – Worcester County Public Schools is now offering COVID-19 testing to students and staff at all 14 schools.
The school system this week announced that a new school-based testing program would be offered to participating students and staff. The program is intended to allow those who become ill during the school day to be tested for COVID-19.
“It’s another tool to keep people safe,” said Lauren Williams, coordinator of school health services.
With the new testing program, students and staff who become sick during the school day with symptoms of COVID-19-like illness can be tested in the school nurse’s suite. Williams said nurses have been trained to administer both the rapid and PCR test. She said the testing, which is entirely free, came as a result of the K-12 testing program announced by Gov. Larry Hogan last month.
“We were very excited at the opportunity to add another tool to our toolbox to keep staff and students safe,” Williams said.
In order for a child to be tested at school, parents need to complete and return an opt-in form. Officials are asking parents to return forms as soon as possible so that they’re already on file if a child needs to be tested. The threshold for testing will be in line with the school system’s COVID-like illness workflow chart. COVID-like illness is defined as a cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, or any two of the following: fever of 100.4 or higher, chills, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion or runny nose.
Another situation in which a student can be tested at school is if they find out during the school day that they’re a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
Williams said the rapid test would be used first. If it returns a negative result, the PCR test, which is more sensitive, will be administered. Williams says the program will allow the school system to notify close contacts of someone with COVID-19 as quickly as possible.
“It’s just another way to get that diagnostic information,” she said.
For more information on the program or to opt-in, parents are advised to contact their child’s school nurse.