COVID-19 testing for safe school reopening
Parents, teachers, and students alike are all looking forward to returning to school. However, the pandemic puts all of them at a higher risk of getting infected in a face-to-face setting. So, will COVID-19 testing be necessary before school reopens?
There were over five hundred million COVID-19 cases recorded all over the world. Experts found that people 60 years old and above are more susceptible to coronavirus disease. The same goes for those with underlying health conditions.
The youth, on the other hand, are less likely to contract it. Experts say that it’s because children and teenagers have stronger immune systems than adults. The relatively low number of coronavirus cases among young kids worldwide proves this.
But with school districts reopened, children are still very much at risk. Coronavirus testing and contact tracing are two key factors that can help protect school staff, students, and public health from COVID.
Why are schools reopening?
Some school children rely on canteens or cafeterias for food. Daily school lunch meals are a right for underprivileged students. For some, it could even be their breakfast or the only decent meal they’ll have all day.
Closing down schools because of the coronavirus pandemic means they won’t have access to it. Without it, they might not be able to get the necessary nutrients they need.
The current pandemic can affect the quality of life of students and it isn’t just because of poverty or lack of finances at home, the transition from traditional learning or on-site education to remote schooling, or getting behind in academic learning or missing educational milestones.
Because school-age children and adolescents will be forced to stay at home, they may be subject to child labor and physical or sexual violence at home. Those living in slums or marginalized areas are more vulnerable to child exploitation. Even if an online teacher or staff is aware of the situation, they won’t have any control over it.
Those are reasons why COVID-19 testing for safe school reopening is essential. To make school and all of its benefits available for the children without compromising their health.
Why is COVID-19 testing for school essential?
There are strict but necessary health protocols in almost all countries. These are being implemented in businesses and establishments, regardless of size and industry.
Some countries have closed their schools temporarily. Others have adjusted the school year calendar. And there are those that opted for online classes or hybrid learning.
More than ever, COVID-19 testing for safe school reopening should be a priority. Public officials and local health departments must find a way to make schools as safe as possible.
Federal and state authorities must work hand in hand with school districts and academic institutions. There must be a way to really enforce physical distancing to prevent high community transmission.
Three Conditions for reopening schools
COVID-19 testing for safe school reopening must be taken seriously. There’s no denying that both teachers and students want to be back in their respective classrooms as soon as possible.
Remote learning or distant education isn’t an adequate substitute for on-site schooling. It can’t replicate the full experience of having a person-to-person instruction. However, it’s still not a good justification for schools to just reopen without a plan for coronavirus testing and contact tracing.
When school opens, kids will be going in and out of classrooms, hallways, and playgrounds. They’ll be riding in a crowded school bus or interacting with other students during after-school activities. They’ll be talking to teachers and other parents going to and from school. Wherever students are, they’re at risk of a coronavirus outbreak.
COVID-19 testing can be done in schools on three conditions:
- There should be regular testing for students, teachers, staff, and everyone within the school system. Experts believe that this will help in minimizing infection rates.
- Strict health safeguards must be implemented within the school grounds. Everyone must practice social distancing as well as basic hygiene and sanitation. Face masks, face coverings, and face shields must be worn at all times.
- School districts must be given the necessary budget and resources to protect all students, teachers, and staff. COVID-19 testing for safe school reopening won’t happen without the money to pay for it all.
2 Types of COVID-19 testing
COVID-19 testing can help detect the Coronavirus. There are two types of COVID tests: Rapid antigen test and RT-PCR test.
The rapid test can generate results in as little as 15 minutes. It can detect a COVID infection in individuals who already have it and are showing symptoms.
The PCR test, on the other hand, needs a day or more to generate results. Although it takes longer, it’s more accurate than the rapid test as it can detect COVID in patients who are asymptomatic or not showing any symptoms.
Challenges of COVID testing in schools
COVID-19 testing for safe school reopening has its own downsides as well, such as:
- A person who initially tested negative today could get infected tomorrow. That’s unless they get tested every single day, which isn’t only costly and time-consuming but uncomfortable as well.
- Another drawback is the swabbing process itself. Medical staff in school, which often only consists of nurses, don’t receive specific training for it. Medical Assistants and Clinical Staff do.
- A good sample depends on the intensity of the virus and whether the swab picked up an appropriate amount of it or not.
COVID-19 Testing Near You
COVID-19 testing for safe school reopening is a must. If you want to make sure you and your child are free from the COVID-19 disease, get tested at an urgent care center near you.