Coronavirus Updates

Some school districts to begin random COVID-19 testing of students, staff

Coronavirus in West Virginia

CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — With the high rate of spread of COVID-19 across the Mountain State, some school districts are looking at how they can better track it locally to keep everyone safe.

In Cabell County, the spread of COVID-19 remains high and to try to curb it, Cabell County Schools are going to begin randomly COVID-19 testing their students and staff.

This new push for testing is in no way mandatory for all students, however.

“We will be sending permission slips home, they went out to the schools today, and they will have to be returned if you want your child to participate. And it’s not only open to children but it’s also open to staff,” says Kim Cooper, assistant superintendent of safety and security for Cabell County Schools.

School officials say this new initiative is meant to keep the spread of COVID-19 under control.

“We’re starting it so that we can kind of get an idea. It’s more of a screening than anything to help slow this spread down,” Cooper says.

Cooper says contact tracing for the disease in schools has become a daunting task already.  

“We are backlogged, as the health department is backlogged also.”

So, this is meant to catch the COVID-19 cases early and stop the spread in its tracks.

“It doesn’t take that long, because the only thing you have to do is spit in a tube and then it’s labeled and it’s sent off,” Cooper says.

The district is working with QLabs, Inc. to process the PCR saliva tests.

“We’re going to be randomly selecting about ten percent from each one of the returned slips and that child and then that child will be tested,” Cooper says.

Health officials in the county say more frequent testing for COVID-19 will help the community to better curb the spread.

“The testing is another one of the layers of protection that we are trying to apply on top of vaccination and masking, and we still need to see more masking… If we want the kids to stay in school, we’ve got to do everything possible to keep them there,” says Dr. Michael Kilkenny, M.D., M.S., CEO and health officer of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.

Health officials say random testing like this will help the health department see where the disease is spreading that would not otherwise know about.

The district says they hope to start this in the next ten days.

For more information from Cabell County Schools, visit their webpage here.

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