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By Christy McGee
APR FFC8 Director of Communications 

FFC8 provides free COVID-19 testing to students and staff

 

Last updated 1/20/2021 at 9:20am | View PDF

Christy McGee

School Nurse Janice Latendresse works at the district's central office, checking out test participants and printing labels for COVID-19 tests. Janice is the school nurse assigned to Mesa Elementary. She also works in the district's testing clinics offered each week.

Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 began offering COVID-19 tests to all staff and students, as well as members of immediate households, on Nov. 30, 2020. For the 2020-21 school year, and operating schools amid a global pandemic, the district has been committed to doing everything it can to support student and staff health and safety.

Testing was identified by experts as one way to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and the district researched partnering with COVIDCheck Colorado in the fall. After initial planning and negotiation conversations, the partnership was established and testing began after the Thanksgiving break.

"Testing and the results gathered have helped inform our communities (staff and students and their families) on if and how long they need to isolate or quarantine after a possible exposure to COVID-19," FFC8 Deputy Superintendent Dr. Montina Romero said.

Four locations across the district were established as testing sites, to make testing convenient to both families and staff. Two locations are on Fort Carson: at Abrams Elementary and Patriot Elementary. Two locations are in Fountain: Fountain Middle School and the district's Central Administration building.

Christy McGee

School Nurse Sheri Lassief walks back to the building after checking in a COVID-19 testing participant at the district's central office. The entire testing process is conducted outside, from a participant's car, which limits contact at each testing site. Sheri is the school nurse assigned to Jordahl Elementary. She also works in the district's testing clinics offered each week.

Testing is conducted 100 percent outside, with the participant never leaving their car. The district's school nurse team conducts the testing, and also helps all staff, students and family members get registered. Any FFC8 student and staff member, as well as members of their immediate households, are eligible to receive the testing. The first step to register is to contact the school nurse or supervisor where the student or staff members is based.

Over the course of four weeks (three weeks between the Thanksgiving and Winter breaks, and the week of Jan. 4 – 8), the district conducted approximately 620 tests. The district will test symptomatic or asymptomatic individuals.

Dr. Romero continued, "Testing results from students in a quarantined cohort have demonstrated that our health safety practices around mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing in schools are working."

Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 is committed to providing this service through the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. Thanks to funding received by COVIDCheck Colorado, the testing is provided at no cost to participants, and there is also no cost to the district. Recently, the governor of Colorado made a statement that the state would be providing at-home COVID testing kits to school districts. FFC8 is in the process of evaluating how the additional testing might fit into the district's larger strategy around testing and COVID prevention.

 

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