District offering free Covid-19 testing for students, staff

by Joseph Sweeney | editor-in-chief

NEISD is now offering free Covid-19 testing to students and staff members.

“We are conducting them at Piper-Bass Student Memorial Center, over here by the Blossom Athletics Center,” NEISD nurse coordinator D’lynn Haycraft said. “There is one testing site for the whole district.”

Tests are available for anyone in the district who is currently experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, though this does not include parents or anyone not directly involved with the district themselves.

“So, if you’re a student you will contact your school nurse, and they will give you a testing pass, and then you’ll bring that testing pass with you to the site, and then we will get you tested. We have our students work with their school nurse to determine if they are eligible to get tested,” Haycraft said. “If you’re an employee, you have to fill out the Covid-19 employee reporting form, and somebody from health services will work with them on getting them a testing pass.”

When driving to get tested, students and teachers are all required to wear masks, while then proceeding to wait for results on-site.

“It’s NEISD nurses right now; there are two of us that have been managing the site this week, myself and our assistant director, [Emma Kelly]. We are the ones that have been overseeing and administering the tests for right now,” Haycraft said.

The district is using BinaxNOW tests, performed via a nasal swab, which have been found to be up to 98% accurate. Results will be determined within 15 minutes.

“So the great thing that we have implemented is that the testing is all done within the person’s car. So they will never even get out of their vehicle,” Haycraft said. “The nurses that are working, we’re wearing full PPE in order to protect ourselves. So what that includes are N95 masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves.”

Though this plan does not include testing for asymptomatic persons, the district has considered implementing it if Covid-19 cases in San Antonio continue to rise.

“Possibly. The factor for that is just gonna be how many test kits we have available to provide that service, but it is definitely something that we have talked about, but we’re not implementing that at this time,” Haycraft said.

To accommodate for possible errors in testing, students and staff are encouraged to seek further testing even upon receiving a negative rapid test result.

“For these, we have not heard of anyone having a false positive,” Haycraft said. “There is a chance of having a false negative, which is why we don’t allow a negative rapid test to let you return to school, but if you come back positive, you are considered Covid positive.”

Free rapid testing is anticipated to remain available throughout the rest of the school year, with changes to the program being made as needed.

“We’re excited to be able to offer this service. It is important to remind our employees and our students that a negative result does not clear them to come back to school or work,” Haycraft said. “However, a positive result will help us in the contract tracing process a lot sooner.”

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