Delaware will pay $15 million for the Quidel Corp. to provide routine COVID-19 testing, processing and reporting for Delaware teachers and students who have no virus symptoms.
In many cases, a Delaware Division of Public Health press release said, Quidel’s rapid antigen tests will provide on-the-spot results in as little as 10 minutes.
The partnership with the Department of Education will immediately identify COVID-19 cases, prevent transmission and keep schools open, the press release said.
As vaccinations in Delaware rose — on Monday 73.1% of those eligible for shots had at least one and 54.1% of Delaware is completely vaccinated — many expected schools to open with little need for masks and the intense protocols of the last year.
Then the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention announced that unvaccinated students should wear masks, among other things.
Quidel’s services, will will be free to schools and staff, will include Quidel providing staff to conduct on-site testing, analyze results and report them to families and the state, relieving schools of that burden. Results are expected to be reported back to families within 24 hours.
“When used alongside other prevention strategies, like distancing and face masks, testing creates an additional level of reassurance that it is safe to keep schools open,” said Public Health’s Chief Physician Rick Pescatore. “This program allows schools the best of both worlds, being able to identify potential cases early while continuing to focus on the business of learning.”
Screening testing continues to be an important mitigation strategy, recommended by the CDC.
“Antigen testing facilitates our quick identification of cases, which in turn will help keep our classrooms open to in-person learning,” said Secretary of Education Susan Bunting.
The Quidel system already has been in place at five pilot schools for summer students and staff. Three participating schools are in the Colonial School District, one in the Christina School District and Odyssey Charter School, the press release said.
Quidel can expand the program to all 350 of the State’s K-12 public, private and charter schools when classrooms fully reopen in the fall. Parental permission will be required for students to participate.
The service is meant to provide routine testing for asymptomatic staff and students.
Staff and students who have symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and seek testing at one of Delaware’s available sites. Quidel and DPH will coordinate follow-up testing and results reporting for any student who receives a positive result from the rapid antigen test.
“Quidel is proud to partner with the State of Delaware in the development and launch of this comprehensive testing protocol to support the state’s safe reopening of classrooms and efforts to protect students and school staff,” said Douglas Bryant, president and CEO of Quidel Corporation.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or headache or congestion or runny nose without a known cause such as allergies.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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