The Newberg School District has initiated a COVID-19 testing program it hopes will slow the spread of the virus and quicken a return to normalcy in local schools.
The district is offering a free, optional weekly test for students in the district. Students enrolled in the program take the at-home testing kits on Monday mornings and can drop off the tests at school the next day.
"One tool for helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 is regular testing, because it can catch infections where people may not be experiencing symptoms," the district said in a news release. "If we know who has it and keep them quarantined, it keeps other people safe."
Once the student is enrolled, parents can pick up a barcoded test kit when they drop off their children at their respective schools, or have one sent home with their student. Getting the results requires parents to create a patient account by visiting LabDash.net. Then it's as simple as entering the test's barcode and test results will arrive in one to two days.
"The barcode on a kit is specific to each school, but not to your child until you link it on the LabDash website," officials said in the release. "You must make this link on the site every week to get the results for your child."
Students should collect a sample for the test Monday evening or Tuesday morning, carefully following the instructions included in the kit, which includes a test tube with the child's name or initials and date of birth.
District officials assured parents that a student's health information will be carefully guarded.
"Sharing of information about your child will only be done for public health purposes and in accordance with applicable law and policies protecting student privacy and the security of your child's data," the release said. "Results from the lab will not be shared with the schools."
District spokesman Gregg Koskela said the program, open to students in all grade levels, is completely optional and "families who do not wish to participate do not need to do so."
Newberg and Dundee's student population numbers more than 4,330 this year, but the district doesn't have a target in mind for how many students it would like to see participate in the program, Koskela said.
"This is an optional resource we are glad to make available," he added. "Keeping students who are COVID positive from interacting with other students is another way to slow the spread of the virus and keep as many students as possible in our in-person learning."
The program is run in conjunction with the Oregon Health Authority and Willamette Valley Toxicology, in Corvallis. Tests that miss the 10 a.m. Tuesday cutoff can be delivered to the lab's Corvallis headquarters during regular business hours. To be effective, samples must be tested within 72 hours of collection.
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