HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn (WDEF) – Hamilton County Schools are beginning to implement a new district wide rapid Covid-19 testing program.
The school district was chosen by the state so that means that all supplies have been provided to schools at no charge and will be available to staff and students.
School nurses will administer the tests, and all results will be reported to the Tennessee Department of Health.
“This is going to be a game changer for us. It only takes 20 mins. If they are positive we know right then and quarantine them right then. We can get them out of the building and into quarantine. That is going to be huge as far as contact tracing. We know where they have been and who they have been around,” says Sheryl Fletcher, Manager of Health Services for HCS.
Hamilton county schools explained that they would be implementing the rapid testing pilot in a set of 4 stages: Stage One, which began today, provided tests for any symptomatic middle school staff member.
Stage Two, which will begin in a few weeks, will make testing available for all Symptomatic staff members at any Hamilton County school.
Stage Three will go into effect at the start of the spring semester and will allow any symptomatic student to receive testing.
And the final stage- Stage Four is set to begin in February and will open up testing to any Asymptomatic staff member at a Hamilton County school. “
School officials tell News 12 that other forms of testing will also be available off site.
“If somebody presents in the nurse’s office with Covid like symptoms, they can take the test. If they get a negative we can still offer them to go get a PCR test at our testing site one to one or they can go get a PCR test at their physician or Alstom drive thru testing,” says Jennifer Bronson, COVID-19 Response Coordinator for Hamilton County Schools.
Hamilton county schools is aware this will add to the already busy workload of school nurses, but says that the nurses are willing to do whatever it takes.
“I don’t think anyone in our profession right now is doing what they normally do. It’s like We are all doing what’s needed for the kids,” says Mardee Miller, Principal of Howard Connect.
The schools did send consent forms home with all the students to be signed by their guardians.
School officials say they will not test anyone without a consent form.