Schools push for rapid COVID-19 test results before return


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If kids are going to be back in schools, more coronavirus testing will be needed. But is the state ready for the increase and more importantly, can we get the results quick enough to stop the spread?

The Kent County Health Department says it’s ready for the school year, saying results are consistently coming back in one to three days.

Some superintendents are saying anything more than two-days is too long. 

“The key is going to be getting the results back in a timely fashion,” said Rockford Schools Superintendent Mike Shibler. 

Shibler has been in contact with the Kent County Health Department.

“We’ve seen hundreds of people and we’ve still been able to maintain that turnaround time recently,” said Brie Carlson, a testing site supervisor with the Kent County Health Department.

“I said I really like 24 hours, but I don’t know if I’m going to get that,” Shibler said. “But I think anything beyond 48 hours — that’s two days — I believe that’s pushing it.”

The Kent County Health Department says it’s constantly improving the testing process. Recently, it implemented a bar code system that eliminates paperwork and streamlines the process.

“We have a very efficient model. We are able to see and process usually one individual every three minutes,” Carlson said. 

There are still unanswered questions like where testing will take place and who will administer tests for students.

“To tell me that I can just send a student to a testing site — that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me if I can test the student right here at the location where I have identified some symptoms,” Shibler said. 

He’s hoping districts will be provided testing kits for school nurses to use. 

For now, superintendents like Shibler are optimistic, but leery.  The health department on the other hand is feeling confident.

“I have no concerns,” Carlson said. The community in Kent County has really come together to lessen wait times and to make things really stratified for everyone in the community.”

If you want your child to get tested for the virus before school starts, you can find a site and make an appointment online.

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