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UPSD Looking to Participate in COVID Pilot Testing Program
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Reporter

            When students in the Upper Perkiomen School District return to class, administrators want to utilize a quick COVID-19 test to keep the doors open. Earlier this month, Superintendent Allyn Roche announced that the district hopes to participate in a program with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to implement a rapid antigen testing program.

            During the board's Dec. 7 meeting, Roche said he has "thrown the district's hat in the ring" to participate in the program. Student participation would be voluntary, according to the administrator, who added that more details are coming.

            The hospital is currently discussing pilot programs in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties, with an expectation of scaling more widely across the region upon the directives of county health departments and their schools, according to Joey McCool Ryan, a senior public relations specialist.

            "Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is seeking to partner with a number of county health departments in southeast Pennsylvania to develop and pilot a COVID-19 testing program that can be replicated and scaled to help schools achieve a safe, equitable environment for children and staff," he wrote in an email message received Tuesday afternoon. "The program would be led by each of the county health departments and efforts are underway to finalize the details."

            District officials are working with the hospital, the Montgomery County's Office of Public Health, the MCIU and local doctors on logistics and approvals, according to the superintendent.

            The program would be led by each of the county health departments, according to Ryan. He wrote that efforts are underway to finalize the details.

            According to information provided by the U.S. Center for Disease Control, "rapid antigen tests can be used for screening testing in high-risk congregate settings in which repeat testing could quickly identify persons with a [novel coronavirus infection] to inform infection prevention and control measures, thus preventing transmission."

            During the meeting, Roche explained that implementation of the tests would help expedite the process of keeping sick children out of school. He said that those who pass the screening process to get into the building, but do not feel well, could see the nurse, receive a test and get a result within 15 to 20 minutes.

            According to the superintendent, students who "fail" the test will likely have to go home because they are experiencing symptoms. He also said it would help administrators and health officials complete contract tracing.

            The district is expecting to shift from 100 percent virtual to a K-12 Hybrid Instructional Model on Jan. 19. All students have participated in at-home learning since March.





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