VDH working with voluntary school divisions for weekly COVID-19 testing of students, staff

VDH is aiming for weekly private testing of students and staff to keep a lid on outbreaks.
VDH is aiming for weekly private testing of students and staff to keep a lid on outbreaks.(NBC12)
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 3:37 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 8:53 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Department of Health is connecting voluntary school divisions with COVID-19 testing vendors. They are aiming for weekly testing of students and staff to keep a lid on outbreaks.

“That can conduct what we call screening testing, it’s kind of like a safety check almost. So weekly tests of the school population or subset of that population, mostly unvaccinated persons to try to catch those outbreaks earlier than we would otherwise,” said Dr. Laurie Forlano, VDH Deputy Director of the Office of Epidemiology.

VDH says 45 school divisions are interested so far. Dr. Forlano admits the “Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance” program might not catch every case, but it will help lessen potential quarantine time for students and disruption to in-person learning.

“But having a testing infrastructure in place on the ground helps make those kinds of strategies a bit more efficient,” said Dr. Forlano.

However, the delta variant is altering lesson plans.

In the metro-Richmond area, VDH says three school divisions are currently affected by COVID-19 outbreaks.

Those are Henrico Co., Hopewell City and Richmond City.

But on the dashboard, you can see down to which individual schools are dealing with issues.

“It seems to be that we’re trending in the right direction and it’s much more manageable,” said Byron Davis, Hopewell Public Schools Director of Balanced Calendar and District Communications.

VDH is helping divisions like Hopewell Public Schools get a handle on the virus spread. Last week, the health department held a mass testing clinic for school staff and the division is now back open.

“We collaborate with the Virginia Department of Health. They did an amazing job of setting up a testing opportunity,” said Davis.

VDH says it hopes to have vendors on board in a couple of weeks to get COVID-19 testing at schools underway.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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