COVID-19 tests with faster results may appear in local schools soon, but district officials have expressed concerns with being responsible for administering them to staff.
Earlier this month, Governor Brad Little announced that thousands of rapid coronavirus tests will be distributed to teachers and public school staff across Idaho.
Over the next three months, Governor Little plans to distribute over 530,000 rapid coronavirus tests to public schools.
The rapid tests will allow for quick results that would help to limit classrooms from quarantining. Governor Little said that the rapid tests are 95 percent accurate, give results in 15 minutes and are less intrusive than previous nasal swab tests.
Area schools have reported that they have not yet seen the rapid tests and the Plummer-Worley Superintendent, Russ Mitchell, said that he isn’t sure if the school district will have much use for the rapid tests.
Mr. Mitchell said that the district plans to continue working with Marimn Health regarding testing and further medical guidance.
“Because of the Plummer-Worley School District’s close, ongoing relationship with Marimn Health, which is simply minutes away, we have differed all official health related tests to them,” Mr. Mitchell said. “They have been very responsive. They are both qualified and prepared to address the issue far greater than district personnel.”
Mr. Mitchell said that Marimn Health has already been using the rapid tests and that they have been successful in helping the district determine the measures to follow in case of an outbreak.
“We have used Marimn Health since the beginning of the school year and they have been utilizing the rapid tests the entire time,” Mr. Mitchell said. “It has helped the district with the identification of positive cases and assisted us in the contact tracing process which has been a very involved process.”
“The primary use for us is to determine the potential overall spread of the virus and being able to identify the extent of the isolation/quarantined needed,” Mr. Mitchell said.
St. Maries Superintendent, Alica Holthaus, said that her district has not received any rapid tests and that her opinion of using them is similar to Mr. Mitchell’s.
“Our teachers and staff are focused on teaching our students and I’m nervous about us having to make medical decisions or administer medical tests,” Ms. Holthaus said. “We have a fabulous community hospital here that has been very effective.”
Kootenai School District Superintendent, Wade Pilloud, said that he has not heard more about the tests since the Governor announced that the state would disperse them.
Mr. Pilloud said that he is waiting to find out more but is willing to do what is best for the district and community to flatten the curve.
“Anything we can do to help flatten the curve is great,” Mr. Pilloud said. “So far we haven’t had any incidents in the district. We are really proud of our staff, students and community who are working together.”
For more information contact the St. Maries School District at 208-245-2579, the Plummer-Worley School District at 208-686-1621 or the Kootenai School District at 208-689-3631.