Lack of staff, logistics may limit SC school districts from implementing rapid COVID-19 testing

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Some school districts in South Carolina are gearing up to implement COVID-19 rapid testing.

The testing is optional and will not be given to a student without parental or guardian consent.

Officials said the rapid testing is for students or staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms while at school.

More than 200,000 Abbott BinaxNow COVID-19 tests are being allocated for schools in South Carolina. The state is receiving these tests from the federal government.

Health officials said, nurses and athletic trainers will be trained to administer these tests and report the results. They will use collect a pain-free shallow nose swab from the student or teacher and then the specimen is tested by putting it onto a BinaxNow card.

Officials said they can get results in about 15 minutes.

Ryan Brown is the Chief Communications Officer for the South Carolina Department of Education. He said, “School nurses are providing herculean tasks in the current climate. So it is another added responsibility for them and athletic trainers as well.”

He said school districts are still working through some of the logistics of providing the testing.

Dawn MacAdams is the Immediate Past President of the South Carolina Association of School Nurses. She is also the health services coordinator for Richland School District Two.

She said, “Most nurses are very stressed with an additional task that has to be done.”

MacAdams said one of the challenges school districts implementing the testing will face includes how to handle the additional medical waste.

“Each district is going to have to work out those logistics and if they have enough staff to be able to do it, MacAdams said.

School districts will have to opt in to offer the testing. It is not required. Brown said, “There are some capacity and liability concerns school districts have brought up.”

He said they are meeting with DHEC and school districts soon to finalize a list of school districts who will be receiving these test kits.

According to state health officials, the tests can be used to diagnose or potentially rule out COVID-19 as a cause of symptoms and do so quickly. This can be a helpful tool by allowing faster diagnosis of COVID-positive individuals, thereby allowing for isolation to begin quickly and for identifying potential close contacts to being quarantine quickly.

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