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Austin ISD hosts mass COVID-19 testing sites ahead of first day of school

The district said it would focus on the six highest-hit ZIP codes.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, Austin ISD hosted mass drive-thru COVID-19 testing events ahead of the district's first day of school.

The four testing sites focused on the six area ZIP codes hardest hit by the pandemic. Those include:

  • 78744
  • 78741
  • 78745
  • 78748
  • 78753
  • 78758

"Rapid testing is a really great screening tool," said Alexandra Copeland, the director of health services at AISD. "Again, we know that cases have risen and so we wanted to make this resource available for our students and staff in COVID hotspot areas."

Families and AISD staff members who live and work in the designated "COVID-19 hotspots" were able to access a free rapid test at one of the drive-thru events from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The district plans to use rapid tests once school begins, specifically for symptomatic students. 

"We have a lot of our COVID safety protocols in place and one of them is rapid testing," said Copeland. "So that will be available in the health rooms for students and staff, especially prioritizing those that may be symptomatic."

The events were held at:

  • Blazier ES; Southeast (8601 Vertex Blvd, Austin, TX 78744)
  • Cunningham ES; Southwest (2200 Berkeley Ave, Austin, TX 78745)
  • Allison ES; Southeast/Central (515 Vargas Rd, Austin, TX 78741)
  • Wooldridge ES; North Central (1412 Norseman Terrace, Austin, TX 78758)

Testing and masking are just two of the many COVID-19 safety protocols Austin ISD is taking for the start of the school year. 

"We will have plexiglass installed. Seating charts will be throughout the school to help with contact tracing," said Copeland. 

She said they will also encourage outdoor eating and learning. She said each school will have hand washing and hand sanitizer stations as well. 

Although elementary school kids cannot be vaccinated, AISD has resources for family members and older students to get the vaccine.

"We are continuing our vaccine clinic efforts," explained Copeland. "I know that they're not available to those under the age of 12, but it is available to their family members and other students and staff that are above the age of 12."

AISD leaders said they learned a lot about the best ways to keep kids safe during this past school year. They said despite the delta variant, they believe bringing kids back into the classroom is the best option for most students. 

"We want to make sure that, you know, we balance physical safety as well as mental safety and well-being and that we are able to provide that resource for our students," shared Copeland. "And so we're going to continue to implement our COVID measures, which we know work, and invite all of our students back, so that they can have that in-person learning."

The first day of classes for AISD is Tuesday.

UPDATE:

AISD provided the following information after Monday's testing:

  • Total tested: 188
  • Total positive: 25
  • Total negative: 163
  • Total student: 117
  • Total staff: 51
  • Total other (family): 20 

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