Schools: COVID Testing of Students and Educators Vital for In-Person Classes
Coronavirus has taken a great toll on many aspects of humanity. One example is the change in the dynamics of the education sector when the federal government implemented a lockdown as a safety measure in preventing further infections. Amid the roll of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, COVID testing was also found by schools to be an effective protocol during in-person classes for the students.
The reopening of school is a part of the Biden administration's American Rescue Plan. The administration will allocate $10 Billion available for K-12 schools in expanding the screening of COVID-19 on staff and students, according to a USA Today report.
Coronavirus Testing for in-person learning
In a survey conducted by Reuters, 74 percent of the respondents reported indicators of increased mental health stresses among students. More than half of the respondents reported heightened mental health referrals and counseling. The study is focused on the school's lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID testing is the response of one of the schools in Northern California in keeping their teachers and students safe while having in-person classes. Teachers and students undergo rapid testing for the virus even though they do not show symptoms of the notorious disease.
"I'm not saying that we should give up any other (in-school safety) protocols," Superintendent Roy Mendiola said. Mendiola emphasized that testing gives them an immediate response.
The regular antigen testing in McSwain Elementary has recorded five positive staff members and one positive student. The people who tested positive along with their close contacts were immediately sent home. However, everyone else who did not engage with them was allowed to stay in school.
Despite the rise in mental health issues, some school board and teacher union leaders and parents are still against in-person classes to protect children's health. Another factor is preventing the community spread.
"Fast and frequent testing is key," said Charity Dean, a physician, as he recommends rapid testing twice a week in screening students and staff. Dean also helped in launching the California COVID-19 Testing Task Force.
Medical technology companies have raced to meet the needs of the schools that have adopted different practices and testing regimens.
"It still needs to be coordinated," said Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. The Food and Drug Administration has only authorized a handful of rapid tests that can be used without a doctor's prescription or supervision of a medical expert.
CDC new guidelines on in-person classes
Apart from the Coronavirus testing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has devised a new guideline regarding physical distancing. From 6 feet, the agency will allow a 3 feet distance among students.
Despite the change in distance, ABC7 noted that masks should always be worn by students and teachers during in-person classes, and also inside the school premises.
"Getting Kids back into in-person learning is very difficult logistically from a space standpoint," said Dr. Ebbing Lautenbach. Lautenbach added that if the new guidelines are approved, it will be feasible to get the kids back into in-person learning.
CDC noted that COVID testing and other prevention approaches should be done to reduce the risk of further transmission and protect students, teachers, and staff from COVID-19.
WATCH: COVID-19 Testing in Schools - from NYC Mayor's Office
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