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School District of Lee County considering COVID-19 testing on campus

UPDATE: Lee County commissioners on Tuesday approved the school district’s request for $250,000 in CARES Act funding to be used for testing students.

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The Lee County School Board is considering performing COVID-19 tests on symptomatic students on campus.

This would provide quicker and easier access to COVID-19 testing in the event your child starts showing symptoms of the disease in the classroom. Two thousand testing kits are currently available from the Florida Department of Education.

Here’s how it works: Your child gets put into an isolation room so the school nurse can do a checkup. After that, the school will call you to ask that you pick up your child and whether you’d like a COVID-19 test or not.

Even with the mask requirements, the School District of Lee County reported 72 COVID-19 cases in its schools. The district wants to start rapid testing students and staff showing symptoms of the virus.

“A positive test allows us to spring into action faster, providing documentation to the DOH immediately upon us testing and not having to wait for a lab report to be sent to them,” said Lauren Stillwell, a spokesperson for the district.

If you agree to a test, a team from Golisano Children’s Hospital will meet you at the school to perform it. You’ll get the results in 15 minutes. Even if the result is negative, your child will be required to stay home for 10 days.

Students could return sooner if they have a note from their doctor. But parents, such as Shelby Berger, worry the time away from school could hurt their children’s learning.

“Oh, that’s too much. That’s way too much,” Berger said. “That’s probably going to affect their education.”

Dr. Stephanie Stovall, a medical director for quality and safety at Golisano Children’s Hospital, says it’s because negative results aren’t always reliable.

“Unfortunately, we are left with, according to CDC guidelines, having to treat everyone as if they have a false positive because of the risk to everyone else in the public,” Stovall said

Kirsten Quinn from Cape Coral says her son was exposed to an infected student in October. Even though his test was negative, he stayed home for 10 days and completed his schoolwork online. Quinn said it’s a small price to pay to ensure everyone’s safety.

“It’s definitely an inconvenience, but if the shoe was on the other foot, you know, and somebody else came to school and they weren’t quarantined and they came back and infected my kid, I would be really upset they weren’t just quarantined,” Quinn said. “So I don’t mind taking the inconvenience to make sure that everyone else is safe.”

The School District of Lee County hopes to begin testing in schools by the end of the week. Lee County commissioners on Tuesday approved $250,000 in CARES Act funding to make it happen.

“A lot of times when kids are sent home from school, they may have to go see their doctor and then they may have to have a test order that takes two to three days to get, so the result may be two or three days later,” Stovall explained. “By the time the school knows about that, then when the Department of Health is helping them do contact tracing, there may already be two or three other kids in the class who have developed symptoms at that point.”

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Janae Muchmore
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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