KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Lenoir County Public Schools is planning to begin on-site rapid testing for COVID-19 in mid-January as part of the pilot program developed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
On Thursday, NCDHHS announced 17 public school districts and 11 charter schools as participants in the program. The program is designed is to slow the spread of the virus by quickly identifying students and staff who may have the virus.
“The test isn’t really looking for the negatives; it’s looking for the positives,” LCPS school nurse April Hardy said. “We’re going to have those students who don’t have one of those exclusionary systems like a cough or fever but they might have a runny nose. We test them and if they show up positive, then we’ve found a positive that we probably wouldn’t have sent home based upon our guidelines.”
To be selected for the first phase of the program, school districts and charter schools had to confirm to their local health department that each participating school can:
- Obtain parental/guardian consent prior to testing,
- Maintain adequate supplies of personal protective equipment,
- Have trained personnel to administer tests or partner with a local health
- Report test results to state and local public health agencies.
LCPS expects to send consent forms home to parents the week of January 4, when students return from Christmas break. In-school testing could begin the next week, according to Hardy. Schools in the pilot will use the Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen test card, which uses a nasal swab to detect COVID-19 and provides results in 15 minutes without laboratory processing.
There are 2,500 rapid Antigen tests now in the hands of school officials, including Hardy. Each package contains a nasal swab and a card.
“So I’m excited about getting this up and running,” Hardy said. “It’s just right inside the nose, and it’s just five seconds on each side of the nostril.”
The cotton swab is then placed into the card. Results reveal themselves as quick as 15 minutes. One line is a negative test and two lines means you’ve tested positive.
“It’s not that we’re looking for those negatives, but we’re looking for those positives,” Hardy said.
Hardy said the test isn’t for everyone.
“Hopefully, we can catch anything and prevent any spread,” Hardy said.
Parents like Shanesha Brock Redmond have gone under the swab. That’s why she said children at that age shouldn’t be getting it done. Other people chimed in on our WNCT Facebook post and a majority were not for it.
Hardy emphasizes the test is optional and consent forms will need to be signed before administering the test.
“Definitely is up to the parents, so if you choose not to have it done, that’s completely optional and we will not do a test on your child without your consent,” Hardy said.