Dozens of Wake County schools to add weekly COVID-19 testing program

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – In the next few days and weeks, dozens more public schools in Wake County are starting up weekly COVID-19 testing.

MAKO Medical, the company running those tests, confirmed the expanded testing on Wednesday. 

Wake County Public School System started the semester with only 11 of 194 participating in the weekly testing.

Max Forest, MAKO Medical testing program manager, said it was an intentionally slow start.

“We were just trying to get some schools involved so Wake County could see, hey, this is how it works,” Forest said. “That’s why we only started with 11 at first.”

But that’s set to change in just days.

“We’re going to have 30 to 40 more starting next week and thereafter until we get all of them set up,” Forest said.

The MAKO Strong Schools NC K-12 testing program brings PCR tests to schools weekly and is voluntary for students, teachers, and any support staff like cafeteria workers or bus drivers.

“All the students either get brought to them or there’s some formats where they go classroom to classroom, trying to minimize as much disruption as possible,” Forest said.

State health guidance for schools said that any COVID-19 symptom from fever, to cough, runny nose, sore throat, or even a headache could mean pulling that child out of class until they test negative or isolate for five days.

For parents like Cammy Sollie, the latest outbreak means even the smallest symptoms bring uncertainty on a daily basis.

“At the drop of the dime, you have to go pick up your child and be home for five days. I understand why,” Sollie said. “I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, is it COVID? Is it a cold?’ We had to make sure it was just a cold before we could send them back.”

Sollie said her children’s school has not yet started the weekly testing but will sign her kids up as soon as it becomes available.

“When it comes to our school, then yeah, we would have our children tested,” Sollie said. “Especially if they were exposed, it would be nice to have something on campus to double check.”

Statewide, the department of health is promising to prioritize schools in its latest round of shipping out 700,000 professional and at-home rapid test kits.

But Wake County school officials said schools do not yet have rapid tests available for symptomatic students.

Parents can see which schools are participating and sign their students up for the weekly testing program online.

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