Harlingen CISD was one in eight schools chosen to pilot the COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program last month. Now the district is preparing to begin using these testing kits.
“The federal government distributed these tests out to the state with the recommendation that they may be used in school districts,” Chief Academic Officer Dr. Alicia Noyola said. “We were fortunate that Harlingen CISD was selected as one of those eight districts. This is one added tool to assist us in dealing with this COVID pandemic.”
This rapid test is non-invasive as it only requires 30 seconds or five swabs in each nostril, and results are available in less than 15 minutes. The state is recommending a focus on having individuals perform the test themselves while being coached by a trained individual.
“Because the focus is on self-administration, our focus is really going to be on the adult population,” Noyola said. “We have identified individuals in our district who by nature of their work do come into close physical contact with students or with other colleagues.”
The district’s plan to pilot this program includes the use of a tiered system for screening.
Tier 1 will include those who have close physical contact with students on a regular basis such as teachers and staff members in Life Skills and Pre-K classrooms. This group will be allowed to test on a weekly basis.
Tier 2 will include staff who come into physical contact with students occasionally. Those employees can test every other week.
Some students may be allowed to test, but only with parent permission.
“We’re also looking at it from a targeted response situation, Noyola said. “When we have situations where we have symptomatic individuals, they would have close contacts that we identify. That would be a situation where we would go through and utilize the test in a targeted response.”
All rapid testing through the pilot program will be voluntary.
“Our goal is to try and start utilizing these tests in mid-November,” Noyola said.