Blue Valley School District beefing up COVID-19 testing efforts to keep kids in school

Johnson County COVID-19 testing

As COVID-19 cases decline, the Blue Valley School District says the district's current masking policy in combination with multiple testing avenues are helping to reduce the spread. The district will be launching a new program next month that allows an exposed student to stay in school as long as they test negative each day over a seven-day period. File image.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases within the Blue Valley School District have been on the decline, according the quarterly COVID-19 prevention update presented to the Board of Education at their meeting Monday night.

The update took the board through both current and future measures staff within the district are implementing in order to keep students in school.

Preventative measures

Since the beginning of the fall semester, the district says it has created several new programs and safety measures in order to try to reduce the spread.

Those measures include:

  • voluntary weekly testing for teachers and staff to see if they are positive and potentially asymptomatic.
  • a partnership with Lenexa-based MAWD Labs to create a drop box testing program that allows staff to pickup and drop off a testing kit at either Blue Valley District Campus or MAWD Lab Headquarters.
  • and drive-in testing clinics, also conducted by MAWD at District Campus in Overland Park.

The drive-in clinic is open not only to staff and students, but also their immediate family members.

“We wanted to make sure that that not only our employees safe and their families safe, but our kids and their families as well,” Mark Schmidt, the district’s assistant superintendent for special education, said.

All three testing initiatives have the results back to the patient with a 12-16 hour time frame in order to guarantee a quick return to school pending negative results, district officials say.

New program

In addition to these programs, the district, again in partnership with MAWD, is looking to launch a new program they are calling “test to stay and learn.”

The program will allow students who are potentially exposed to COVID-19 to stay in school as long as they are testing negative.

If a student is exposed to someone with COVID, parents can choose to take their child to the district’s drive-in clinic to get tested. As long as the student has a negative PCR test, they are allowed to go to school the next day.

Exposed students have to take a test everyday for a total of seven days in order to remain at school under the new program.

Students will also have to remain masked the whole time at school, except for when they have lunch. During that time, students will also have to eat in an isolated area in order to not potentially expose anyone.

“I’ve got the seal of approval from the Johnson County Health Department that this is safe,” Schmidt said about the program. “It virtually eliminates the need to remove someone from class.”

Schmidt says the hope is to start this new program as early as Nov. 1, but the launch is pending on MAWD getting more staff to help conduct the testing.

“I love the concept,” boardmember Jodi Dietz said. “I think this is adding another level to the goal of keeping kids in seats, keeping face to face learning going.”