Del. health officials teaming up with Quidel to get more COVID-19 tests in K-12 schools
DELAWARE – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is working to bring more COVID-19 testing to schools, with the new school year quickly approaching. Local school districts and health officials say a big burden has been lifted, now that Quidel is stepping in. “It allows the educators to go back to focusing on what they need to be focusing on, which is school, basically. As we get a lot of students back into class, we know there will be lots of work for educators, staff, and faculty,” said Education Liaison for DPH Dana Carr.
Quidel specializes in making all different kinds of tests for viruses and diseases. The company will now be coordinating with Delaware’s K-12 schools to provide routine nasal swab rapid antigen tests on campuses across the state. “Anything we can do to offer that to people to help root out the virus so it doesn’t spread to others and so that our families and students feel safe – if we’re able to provide that service then we’re definitely willing to do so,” said Milford School District’s Director of Human Resources and COVID-19 Coordinator Jason Peel.
Carr says Quidel’s tests look for the presence of COVID-19 in general. She says they’ll be able to detect the Delta variant that’s surging across our nation. She also says DPH will be helping out with sequencing the tests at their lab, so they can get results back as quickly as possible. “That’s the bottom line. We want to make sure our kids are able to be in school, faculty and staff to be there, and families feel comfortable,” said Carr.
Quidel personnel will be background checked and accompanied by school officials while on campus. In Milford, Peel says the school nurse will be on hand any time Quidel staff interact with students. Carr says DPH will assist in ensuring school safety.
Meanwhile, Peel says the school district is now working with the Quidel to figure out the best location and time to provide that free testing. “This testing will only take place for students at their parents’ consent to be tested. We will facilitate that at the beginning the year. We’re not even sure of how many people are wanting to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Peel.
DPH officials were able to observe kids taking the tests in their pilot program, according to Carr. “These kids are very comfortable doing it. We’ve been able to observe them. They come in, they do it, stick it in the thing, and they go back onto class and they’re good to go,” said Carr.
Carr says the collaborative effort is all part of making sure all of their bases are covered. “Frequent, routine testing of asymptomatic individuals is a really critical component of a comprehensive mitigation strategy,” said Carr. “We like to think of it as a swiss cheese approach. So, none of the strategies alone are perfect, but when you layer them all together, it creates a solid block of cheese, if you will.”