The Millard Public Schools will offer free weekly COVID-19 testing for teachers and staff between Thanksgiving and winter break, officials said.
The district will pay for the saliva testing through a grant from an anonymous donor, school board President Linda Poole said.
She said it’s “surveillance testing.”
“We think that this will help us fight COVID,” she said.
“It’s not mandatory,” she said. “We’re going to highly encourage staff to do it.”
Testing will be available at each school on a rotating basis once a week, Poole said.
“It’s a way to try to catch those staff members who may be asymptomatic and might not know that they have it in order to keep them safe so it doesn’t spread,” she said.
The plan was created in partnership with the Millard Education Association, she said. District spokeswoman Rebecca Kleeman said the Douglas County Health Department is also partnering in the effort.
Darwin Labs is the company performing the tests, Kleeman said.
Testing will give teachers “peace of mind” by providing a good picture of conditions in schools, said Tim Royers, president of the Millard teachers union.
“This really helps give us a whole lot more data,” he said.
The test results will be available within an hour, allowing district officials to react faster to positive tests, Royers said.
“We’ll find out in less than an hour, in the building, if there’s somebody who potentially has COVID, and we can isolate them a heck of a lot faster than we could right now, especially if they’re asymptomatic,” he said.
Poole said the testing should be reassuring to staff.
“It should ease their mind a little bit; we’re going to do this every week,” she said.
Poole said the district could continue the testing beyond the holidays if it’s successful, but the district would need money to extend the program. There’s not money for it in Millard’s budget, she said.
“If we find out ... it cuts down on the number of subs that we have to have, and it keeps our teachers healthy, and those that aren’t keeps them at home, then it would be worthwhile,” she said.
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