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School is now able to provide COVID testing for students, staff

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Trisha Benton

Randolph Times

RANDOLPH — When students or staff members at Randolph Public Schools are sent home due to experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they essentially have three choices.

First, they can visit a doctor and get an alternate diagnosis; they can get a COVID-19 test; or they can stay home and isolate for 10 days. All of those options take time and the first two have costs associated with them, said Superintendent Jeff Hoesing.

“We don’t want otherwise healthy kids missing school or having their families incur an expense to prove they are healthy,” he said. “We want students or staff that are COVID positive to be identified as quickly as possible and be removed from school to reduce the chances of a widespread outbreak.”

Starting this week, there’s another option available.

Students and staff  are now able to get a free antigen test at school if they start experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 

Randolph Public Schools received a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) waiver from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services which allows the school to administer simple, over-the-counter rapid antigen COVID tests and get results within minutes.

Antigen test results are accepted by the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Dept.  in allowing students and staff to return to school.

The tests - known as QuickVue SARS antigen tests - have FDA Emergency Use Authorization, allowing use for school-aged children and administered by lay people.

The test requires  that a shallow nasal swab be taken (less than the length of the cotton part on a Q-tip) for no longer than 15 seconds. Results are available within 15 minutes.

If the test results are negative, the school will conduct a second test within 24-36 hours of the first test,  to confirm negative results.  Students can return to school after one negative test as long as they are free of fever for 24 hours.

Drug stores are also selling something called a PCR test  which is a little more accurate but the PCR swab has to be mailed away to a lab.  The schools’ CLIA waiver  does not cover the use of PCR tests.

Parental permission is required to test students or a parent may choose to come into the school and perform the test on their child themselves. The school will observe the process to ensure the test is done correctly.

Testing kits may not be given out to families to do at home, and they are designated for students and staff only.

In other school news, the Randolph School Board met Monday night and reviewed tax asking history from the last seven years. In the figures presented by Hoesing, the overall tax asking decreased by $37,000 every year on average.

“You all have done a really good job of managing the district’s money,” he told the board members.

At its meeting, the board also:

- Heard about a Perkins grant that was awarded to Craig Flaming for a universal fabricator, valued at $15,000, to be used in his classroom.

- Heard a report by High School Principal Brandi Bartels in which she announced that the school will host one-act play competition on Nov. 30. She also reviewed information prepared by the high school English department; provided data on high school testing results; reviewed past and upcoming student activities; and gave attendance numbers for parent-teacher conferences along with results from a parent survey. Bartels said she is working on improving communication with parents and the community.

- Heard a report by Elementary Principal Mary Miller. She provided information on elementary testing results; gave attendance numbers for parent-teacher conferences; and reviewed past and upcoming student activities.

- Approved an updated list of assistant and volunteer coaches for the 2021-22 school year.

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