Durham, NC – Durham Public Schools is one of the first school systems in the state to start offering COVID-19 tests to students, parents and teachers.
Earlier this month, officials announced that the district would partner with Ottendorf Labs, a state-certified testing lab, to provide rapid asymptomatic PCR testing for anyone in need, including community members, starting on Thursday.
Tests usually give results within 24 hours and can detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals, officials say.
The tests are voluntary and will be free of charge to people requesting them, and student scores will be reported to staff members or caretakers and the Durham Public Schools Chief Nurse for tracking contacts within the district.
Anyone under the age of 18 will need parental permission before being tested.
The tests will be available at Southwest Elementary, Mangum Elementary, Merrick Moore Elementary and City of Medicine Academy. A pilot program begins Thursday and tests will be available when students return from spring break.
Officials hope the tests will hold more COVID-19 cases outside of schools.
Elementary students in Durham County just returned to school on March 15 after a year of distance learning. On the second day of school, three classes in Southwest Elementary School and one in a second school had to switch to temporary distance learning after two students and a staff tested positive for coronavirus.
Students in local high schools and high schools will return on April 8th.
I am so excited that we will have this extra level of protection for our students and staff, said Supervisor Dr. Pascal Mubenga. Thanks to the federal grant supported by Ottendorf, anyone who wants it will have easy access to the convenient and free COVID-19 PCR level testing.
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