Rapid COVID-19 testing starting in high schools this week
SALT LAKE CITY – Schools all over the state are stepping up their COVID-19 testing efforts, especially for student-athletes. They will be giving those students rapid tests, but some districts want to expand that testing beyond what the state is recommending.
The tests are part of Governor Gary Herbert’s emergency mandate which put the vast majority of practices, tryouts and workouts on hold for two weeks. Educators say the mandate was specifically aimed at all events sponsored by the Utah High School Activities Association, which essentially covers most competitive sports but not things like the marching band or choir.
With rapid tests, athletes coaches and other staff can know the results within 15 minutes of taking it. The tests are being provided by the CDC, so all schools have to provide is the labor.
Jordan School District Spokesperson Sandy Riesgraf says, “We do have to have either a school nurse or a trained personnel to do the actual test.”
Students in that district will be getting these tests by the end of the week, but Riesgraf says they still have some last minute details they need to clear up before they can begin.
She says, “We’re pretty much ready to go, but some of those decisions are still being made in some of the schools. We just want to get it right, do it right and do it safely.”
Even though the mandate specifically mentioned students in UHSAA sponsored events would get the exam, the real goal was to test as many asymptomatic people as possible to find kids who are spreading the virus without knowing it. Granite School District Spokesman Ben Horsley says they want to expand this mandate to kids participating in other extra-curricular activities, like theater and band.
Horsley says, “Any sort of increase in testing is allowing us to actually create a safer environment for our staff and employees.”
The district recently used these tests at Granger High School to let students come back to in-person learning sooner if they’re exposed to the virus.
“It’s the same type of test, but instead testing to participate in a sport, you can test, and with a negative result, return to school sooner than the full 14-day dismissal,” Horsley says.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
- If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
- Get a flu shot.
Resources for more information:
State of Utah: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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