St. Helena begins mass-testing students upon returning from Thanksgiving break
ST. HELENA - St. Helena parish schools took extra precautions for their students returning from Thanksgiving break, making sure to test them before they entered the classroom.
After a single teacher tested positive for COVID-19 a week before Thanksgiving, officials made the decision to transition to all virtual classes until after the break.
This morning, as students returned, groups of them were tested by Southeast Health Systems with rapid tests, which take about 15 minutes for results.
“They went in six at a time. They waited on their results, and when they received their results--if it came back positive--we implemented the proper protocols and of course, if they were found negative then they went right back to class,” Superintendent Kelli Joseph said.
School officials have been ahead of the virus since school began, this time was no different.
“The numbers are going up,” Principal Brandon Fontenot said, who supervised one of the testing sites Monday. “We’ve seen the spike, so we wanted to make sure our campus is safe for our students, for our faculty.”
Out of the 200 students tested Monday, nine came back positive and were sent home. Anyone who came into contact with them was notified as well.
“We have assigned seating charts in all of our classrooms, so we would absolutely know how to contact trace any student that came in contact or was around a student who tested positive,” Joseph said.
Dr. Joseph says they know the system is slightly flawed since students can get COVID at any time.
“We understand that it's a snapshot in time. It doesn't mean that we think our students couldn't contract COVID two days from now, a day from now, or even five hours from now. We understand that, so we are working with Southeast to see if they have any additional tests to see if maybe we could test them for the next two weeks.”
Officials say it will take up to three days to test the 1,200 students in the parish. They should be done testing by Wednesday.
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