ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) -Schools across South Carolina are getting ready to start rolling out rapid COVID-19 tests.
This week, South Carolina officials announced they would send 200,000 rapid tests to school districts.
A spokesperson says Rock Hill Schools Superintendent Bill Cook was the one to go down to Columbia and get the rapid testing kits on Thursday. Now, there is more information about how school districts are planning to use them.
School districts, like Rock Hill Schools, are preparing testing plans now. Those include a way to get rid of used tests, nurse training and testing consent forms for parents.
Department of Education spokesperson Ryan Brown says any student or staff showing symptoms can get tested quickly. Brown says districts get enough tests for 10 percent of the entire staff and student body, but more are available by request. For context, Rock Hill schools will get about 2000 tests.
Schools districts are hoping these tests can help keep schools open. The sooner a student or school staff can get a positive test result, the sooner they can keep away from others. It also cuts down on how long students and teachers need to be quarantined after an exposure.
”I hope that we can all get to a point where we can have the normal education process getting back to as normal as possible. I think the rapid testing will help that,” says parent Charles Cherry, who is for the tests in schools.
Charles Cherry has one key word for protecting his two children from COVID-19: confidence.
”As confident as I may want to be I try to always keep an open mind of what could go wrong,” he says.
Cherry says he has less to worry about now. Rather than waiting days for results, they’ll get answers in minutes. Once he gets the permission slip, he will sign it for his two middle school students.
”I would want to know and it helps parents also be reassured,” he says. ”Especially for the teachers, it gives everyone an opportunity to prepare. I think this is an excellent thing because this is an important part of the community that we need to keep going.”
Teachers do not completely agree with everything Cherry says. Several WBTV talked to on Friday today say they think this will give everyone a false sense of safety - doing more harm than good. While they agree schools need to be open and students need to learn, they still believe virtual is the safer option.
Governor Henry McMaster announced the program two weeks ago.