State Department of Health says COVID testing in schools being explored

It may be no surprise that testing in schools could help reduce the risk of transmitting COVID. Some of the biggest hang ups are figuring out how often kids would be tested, who would do it and how much it would cost.

The Washington State Department of Health says while there are still so many unknowns about the concept, it is something some school districts are exploring. And it’s a topic many parents are already feeling highly conflicted over.

 “I don't feel like it’s a government job to test my children to put them back in school in the first place,” says Puyallup mother Christie Mabis. “If I was really concerned they had it I wouldn’t have a problem with them getting it done, but just so they could go to school, to have a test done?”

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Mabis says she isn’t comfortable with the idea of it, but like many parents we heard from, she says it’s not exactly a simple topic.

“Part of me is like heck yes let’s do COVID testing so my kids could go back, but at the same time it’s like at what cost are we doing this to our kids?” says Mabis.

As of now, the Pierce County Health Department is working on a COVID screening and testing pilot program with some local districts after getting nearly $8 million in federal funding. In terms of how often kids would be tested and where, the department says they are still working out details.

“I fully believe kids should be in person in school, if there is hopefully minimally invasive testing in place in order for that to happen-I just think that it’s really important for my kids to be there in person,” says Andi Tegtmeyer. Her children are in the Peninsula School District and might be part of the pilot program.

Tegtmeyer is eager to learn more but feels okay about it. Though she can’t help but think about this:

“I drive around every day and go to Kohl's, and Homegoods and there’s restaurants open and people all over the place and they’re not being tested, but then we're putting our kids 5, 6, and 7 year olds through potential rapid testing for really an essential service for them.”

Officials with DOH say there are still so many unknowns about what testing in schools would entail on many levels. Health officials says they’re working on writing guidance for some districts if they decide to ever pursue testing students and staff.