Culpeper County Public Schools hopes to become an early adopter of a K-12 coronavirus testing pilot program being launched by Virginia’s departments of education and health.
The program, set to run this month through June, will allow schools to implement diagnostic testing and screening programs. The health department will provide qualifying school systems with free testing supplies and implementation guidance. On Monday, the school board unanimously directed staff to apply for the program.
Superintendent Dr. Anthony Brads explained the program would allow the schools to test students and teachers exhibiting coronavirus symptoms and screen others.
Dr. Russell Houck, executive director of student services, explained students who are currently symptomatic cannot come to school unless they get tested on their own. Many students, he noted, do not get tested and return after quarantining. Being able to test, he said, would allow the schools to obtain more information before sending a student home.
Houck explained the school system meets a variety of criteria deeming it eligible for the pilot program such as having sufficient health services staff to implement the testing. He added that the schools have sufficient personal protective equipment and bio-hazard disposal practices. To top it off, he explained that each school has a clinic and an isolation room so tests could be conducted in a private setting.
The schools, Houck added, have a strong relationship with the health department, which has resulted in all nurses and clinical assistants being trained in contact tracing.
Brads noted that testing will likely play some role in achieving the goal of offering five days of in-person learning next school year.