San Marcos CISD gears up to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing to students

Education

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — About 2,000 tests have been delivered, nurses trained and permission slips sent out.

The San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District is ready to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing starting on Nov. 30.

The tests are part of a program in partnership with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Department of Emergency Management. Other participating school districts include Eanes ISD and Austin ISD.

It’s a welcome relief for some school nurses, who say containing COVID-19 on campus hasn’t been easy.

“It’s been pretty difficult keeping track of students’ symptoms, when they started, when they were feeling better, when they went to the doctor, did the parent drop off a doctor’s note? Parents having to be out of work, kids missing school, having trouble logging in at home,” said Heather Mcwhorter, nurse at Bowie Elementary.

Now, they hope to identify the virus more quickly and efficiently.

“If students have any symptoms, we can go ahead and in 15 minutes we can know if they’re positive or negative to see if they can stay in class or if we need to isolate them and send them home,” said Kristen Rocha, a nurse assistant at San Marcos High School.

They hope it will also minimize disruption to the classroom.

“We’ve had to be cautious and so, even if they have one or two mild symptoms, we still end up sending them home, just erring on the side of caution. So, that would be eliminated,” said Dyanna Eastwood, San Marcos CISD district nurse.

The testing is optional, and even if families have signed their permission slip, Fernandez says nurses will call them again just before administering any test.

Hays CISD has decided not to opt into the program.

“We’re already short handed, and we felt like if we went to that type of system, we were going to have to utilize more of our personnel,” said Superintendent Eric Wright.

Instead, they’re encouraging all families to get tested at the curative van in front of their performing arts center in Kyle.

“What we like about this model is that we’re able to test both asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals,” he said.

Hays CISD has seen it’s COVID-19 cases double over the last two weeks reported, from 13 to 26. But Wright says that’s still a small number out of about 21,000 students and 3,500 staff.

“For those areas that we feel are a little bit more of a concern, we’ll offer shields on top of the masks that we’re already recommending, and then we have sneeze guards that we’ve put in place in many of the classrooms,” he said.

San Marcos CISD has gone from nine to 13 cases in the most recent two weeks of reporting. They also plan to have Curative testing for neighbors at Rattler Stadium in December.

So far, the TEA says more than 500 school districts across Texas have opted into the state’s rapid testing program, including Austin and Eanes ISDs.

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