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Longview ISD to participate in rapid COVID-19 testing for staff, students

Longview ISD and Grace Community School in Tyler are two of eight school districts chosen for the program.

LONGVIEW, Texas — Beginning this week Longview ISD will roll out a rapid COVID-19 testing program within its campuses.

"Commissioner [Mike] Morath called us and notified me that we had been selected to participate in this trial program along with seven other school districts," Longview ISD Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox said.

Two weeks ago, the district conducted a swab and PCR testing program through a partnership with U.S. Med Test that was approved by the school board. 

"The new test that we’re using is a shallow nasal cavity test and you put it in a card and close it and two to 15 minutes it’s ready," Dr. Wilcox said. "It can be self administered."

According to the district, the rapid testing program is a partnership with state officials. The program will accommodate all employees of the district to receive a test if needed. 

"The difference is the agreement with U.S. Med Test was for a two-week trial run to approve proficiency to help use that to leverage some Cares Act money that the state of Texas still had at its disposal," Dr. Wilcox said. 

The program is mandatory and parents must give consent to the district to allow their student to receive a test. 

"Education is our priority but safety of our students as well as our staff is our number one priority at all times," Dr. Wilcox said. "That's what we're trying to ensure doesn't happen that we keep our staff safe as possible, where they can deliver instruction in a safe environment to all our students."

According to the office of Gov. Greg Abbott, the program will be used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on Texas school campuses. 

"As more students return to campus for in-person instruction, the State of Texas is working alongside school officials to provide resources to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff," said Gov. Abbott. "Thank you to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for providing these advanced antigen tests to the State of Texas. This rapid testing pilot program will be an effective strategy to protect the health and safety of students and staff while helping to further ensure that Texas students have access to a quality education throughout the pandemic and beyond." 

While the test for students will be conducted through school nurses, employees of the district will be allowed to self-administer their own tests. 

"It's not a mandatory testing," Dr. Wilcox said. "It's available to any employee at no cost this is being funded through the governor's office and through the recommendation of the Texas Education Agency."

The district says they believe they were chosen to be part of the program because of its proactive approach to handling the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I can only assume but I think it’s because we try to be out front on COVID education, awareness, as well as the testing program that we have already began to try and develop a protocol," Dr. Wilcox said. "We want to try to develop a protocol to keep school doors open for everyone who wants to send their child [to school] and make them as safe as possible."

For more information on Longview ISD's rapid testing program you can visit their website. 

RELATED: Longview ISD, Grace Community School to participate in COVID-19 Rapid Testing Pilot Program through state

RELATED: Longview ISD begins COVID-19 testing at high school

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