“The manager there, Clarissa, was very gracious and sold us what we needed,” Sanchez said. “We are going to be piloting this at Belen High School. The reporting that goes along with this is extensive, so we’re going to work out the kinks there.” “What if we used home kits at school sites?” was the question the superintendent put to PED. The idea was approved, so he and Deborah Baca, the district’s health services coordinator, went to the Walgreens in Belen. The state’s contract provider for testing — Premier Medical Group — will be able to provide training and assistance by mid December, Sanchez said, so in the meantime, the district will begin its pilot program at BHS.
Belen Consolidated Schools Superintendent Lawrence Sanchez said while the supply pipeline is not in place, districts are still expected to offer parents a choice between traditional quarantine or “test to stay” in the event of a close contact. So far though, the state has not provided test kits or guidance on how to perform the tests in what is deemed an equitable manner.
After many meetings and much discussion, Sanchez said he went to the state with an idea from a parent. The idea is a possibly-exposed student will receive a rapid test every other day for a week in the morning before being around others and, if it’s negative, carries on with their daily activities at school. If the test is positive, the student goes home to quarantine.
“During one of the meetings, we were told if we did not have it in place by December 1, we would get a warning and possibly a visit from the state,” Sanchez said. “If it’s not in place when we come back in January, we were told there’s the possibility of a fine. They didn’t tell us how much.” Los Lunas Schools Superintendent Arsenio Romero said with one positive case possibly sending 15 to 20 students home to quarantine, depending on the configuration of a given classroom, the “test to stay” option will hopefully allow more students to stay in class. The new toolkit requires the “test to stay” process be fully implemented by January.
The “test to stay” process was initially supposed to be rolled out in mid October, Sanchez said, and be optional for districts. However, when it was released earlier this month, it became mandatory for districts to offer parents a choice between traditional quarantine and the rapid testing model. “The big reason we started at the high school is the number of activities that we have there. The nursing team at the high school is kicking butt,” he said. “It does make you wonder why this was released without everything being in place so we could effectively administer it.”
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