Erie School District announces new COVID-19 testing program for students to help prevent spread of COVID-19

Coronavirus

Three days into the school year and already 11 positive cases of COVID-19 cases are reported from students in the Erie City Schools.

Ten of those 11 students have not gone to school yet and the goal is to maintain in person learning safely.

On Wednesday night the school board was updated on the latest effort to achieve that goal.

Keeping students safe by taking one COVID test at a time, but during school.

The Board of Directors for Erie has opted in for a plan to partner with a company that will bring the tests to the students in an attempt to find those who are positive and may not know it.

The board official said that if they find the students who are asymptomatic with this new COVID-19 testing program, then it will prevent the spread.

Keeping students safe in school has been the priority for the school district since the beginning of the pandemic.

The company that is testing students to find who is asymptomatic is called Concentric by Ginkgo.

Federal government is giving money to each state to run this program.

In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID for this year there is a new method that schools can opt in for.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education decided to team up with a company that conducts COVID-19 testing in schools and collects that information to identify those who are positive for the virus.

“Pool testing is when we take groups of kids and they are considered a pool and all of those individuals whether they are students or staff will take a nasal swab or PCR test and we will put it into one tube and that tube gets sent for testing,” said Neal Brokman, Executive Director of Operations and Pandemic Coordinator.

Since it is a pool testing, there is no distinction of which individual is positive.

“So at that point we would go forward and try to determine who the positive individual or individuals are by contact tracing case investigation and referral for additional testing,” said Brokman.

One of the main goals to prevent further spread is identifying those who are asymptomatic.

“When we’ve got asymptomatic students or staff members that don’t know they are COVID positive, then through this testing process we can identify them to get them the treatment that we need if they need treatment, and isolate that individual so that there are no additional spreads,” said Brokman.

“It is going to give us the opportunity to keep our kids in school to identify any hot spots immediately and take appropriate action,” said Brian Polito, Superintendent, Erie City Schools.

Some families may not like this idea, however all students need a parents signature in order to be tested.

“If a parent feels that the reason they are not doing it is the reason of lack of privacy is again with the initial round of data we do get back, there is no names attached to it,” said Brokman.

There is still no current date set for when this will go into effect for Erie schools.

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