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LDH offering routine COVID testing to K-12 schools; EBR and Zachary on board

1 month 4 weeks 3 hours ago Wednesday, July 28 2021 Jul 28, 2021 July 28, 2021 10:25 PM July 28, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Days before students across the state return to classrooms, the Louisiana Department of Health is launching an effort to combat potential outbreaks in schools.

A K-12 testing program, funded with dollars from the American Rescue Plan, will allow any school district in the state to routinely test students, staff and teachers.

In the capital area, East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools and Zachary Community Schools have signed on. Zachary superintendent Scott Devillier says on-site testing is another tool to keep schools open.

"The sooner you know whether a kid is positive or not, you can make adjustments and hopefully not expose other people to that," Devillier said. "We believe this is just another layer to keep our students safe."

For schools that opt-in, two options are available: self-administration or LDH-provided testing teams.

For self-administration, LDH will provide schools with point-of-care testing materials, with results available in 15-20 minutes. Devillier says Zachary has chosen this option, saying the healthcare infrastructure is already there.

"We have nurses at all of our facilities, all of our schools, so nurses will be trained to administer it," Devillier said.

Option two would provide schools with a testing team to administer tests routinely. These PCR tests would then be processed at a lab, with results available the next day.

LDH is hoping to get 20% of each participating school tested weekly through the effort, providing incentives for participation.

School systems planning to administer the tests themselves, like Zachary, will get $30,000, split into two allotments. Schools choosing to coordinate with an outside testing team will receive $14,500.

Devillier says his district's portion will go towards additional staff needed to administer the tests.

Those choosing to get tested will also be rewarded.

Teachers, staff and students choosing to get tested at least three times a month, will receive virtual payments or prepaid cards. A minimum of $5 will be paid per test taken.

EBRPSS did not provide details on which route it would take Wednesday night.

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