CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — Cabell County Schools begin a new initiative this week to get ahead of the COVID-19 spread in schools.

COVID-19 transmission is still high throughout Cabell County. On top of mandatory masks and social distancing, the school district is taking one extra step to try to keep kids safe and in school.

Random, voluntary COVID-19 testing of students is beginning in Cabell County Schools.

“Our testing has started today. We sent out permission slips a couple of weeks ago. What we’ll be doing is testing ten percent of the ones that are in the pool, to check and see if they’re positive,” says Kim Cooper, assistant superintendent of Cabell County Schools.  

School officials say so far the program is well-received.

“It’s voluntary. It’s not that you have to do it, and there’s no pressure if you don’t want to do it. Because I understand, you know, people’s rights to privacy and I totally understand that as well – I always think that anytime you can explain the ‘why’ behind something is, it really helps to kind of reduce the anxiety of why we’re doing this, and it’s to be proactive and kind of help reduce that transmission rate,” says Amy Maynard, principal of Meadows Elementary School.

According to Cooper, every day five or six different schools in the district will undergo random testing of those who consented using a PCR saliva test.

The sample will be processed by QLabs, Inc., giving parents, schools, and health agencies access to the results in 24 to 48 hours.

“The goal is to identify those that are positive, without showing symptoms right now,” Cooper says.

In turn, helping to keep more students from getting infected.

School officials tell us they see this voluntary, random COVID-19 testing program as being beneficial not only for the health of their students, but for their families as well.

“Testing our students at school could also have a positive impact on the community as well with families that may not know if their child [is positive], I mean maybe it would also encourage them to get tested to kind of help reduce that transmission of the virus too,” Maynard says.

As for the students themselves? Fourth grade student Cully Smith’s parents and Principal Maynard gave us permission to speak with Cully about her point of view:

“I don’t really trust COVID right now because you know it’s going around in the school and it would help more if we know who has COVID and then they can go home,” Cully says.  

Cabell County authorities hope this prevents more outbreaks from interrupting the school year.

They say they will continue to collect those permission slips from parents if they want to add their children to the random testing pool.