Virus testing could be part of school day in NC this year
With coronavirus cases surging in North Carolina and most public and private schools preparing to start a new year in the coming weeks, state health officials on Thursday announced a major partnership to expand virus testing in schools statewide.Posted — Updated
"School-based testing for COVID-19 is one of the key strategies to getting our children safely back into the classroom, and [we] will help every North Carolina school get the resources they need to have a strong testing program,” Susan Gale Perry, chief deputy secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.
Raleigh-based Mako Medical, along with Concentric by Ginkgo, will provide testing services to school districts, charter schools and private schools, officials said.
To date, 44 school districts, 47 charter schools and 48 independent schools have opted to participate in the testing program. Another 81 school districts and charters have chosen to receive financial support to hire additional school health team staff to support testing and other school-based health services.
"The schools get to choose how they want the testing program to be performed and run," Mako Chief Operating Officer Josh Arant said. "Whether that's on a weekly basis or more routine testing or it's testing athletes or it's testing individuals who may have been exposed to someone COVID-19 positive ... it allows that flexibility for the individual school."
Citing a study from the Rockefeller Foundation, Arant said routine testing in schools can cut coronavirus infections by as much as half.
"It's a risk mitigation factor that helps reduce the spread. It's not the only thing," he said.
The Orange County School District, Cumberland County Schools and Nash County Public Schools have already opted in to the testing program.
"Schools have the opportunity to opt in till Sept. 13 and probably after that," Arant said.
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