Durham Public Schools to begin voluntary weekly COVID-19 testing, only 10% of students, staff participating

COVID-19 and schools

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham Public Schools will begin voluntary weekly COVID-19 testing, but only 10% of students and staff will participate.

DPS is working in partnership with MAKO Medical to provide weekly COVID testing to catch more asymptomatic cases of the virus. 

“This is just one of the ways we’re trying to reduce the spread,” said Delois Prince, manager of the COVID-19 Response Team.

All the students who have registered will be tested on a weekly basis for COVID and district officials said it’s the “less invasive” COVID test. 

“It’s just a tickle of the nose,” Prince said. “Three to five seconds on the right, three to five seconds on the left.” 

Nasal swabs from six students will be placed in one tube and tested at a time, a process they call “pool testing.” If COVID-19 is detected, those six students will go back and individually be tested, so they can determine which student is positive.  

Currently, just over 3,800 students and staff are registered to participate in weekly COVID testing. District officials said this is about 10 percent of the students and staff population combined.  

This week, COVID clusters were reported at two schools in the district. 

On Thursday, district leaders said students and staff who have not registered to be tested for COVID-19 are encouraged to do so. 

“It’s just important overall for everyone to be tested,” Prince said. 

Crystal Dreisbach has two kids who attend Durham Public Schools and when she found out the district would be giving students the option to be tested every week for COVID, she registered her kids right away.

“The way the virus acts, it’s really important we nip it in the bud, and we catch it right away,” Dreisbach said. “There’s nothing that should be stigmatized about getting tested. I really believe it’s how we’re going to keep all of the kids in DPS as safe as they can be.”  

To register your student for surveillance COVID testing, click here.

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