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Health Department Aims to Reach Almost All Oklahoma Districts in 3 Weeks for Teacher COVID Testing

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The state health department wants to make it to almost all of Oklahoma’s 547 school districts over the next three weeks to offer COVID tests to teachers and support staff.

The health department aims to visit larger districts twice in the next 30 days.

Gov. Kevin Stitt announced an optional, monthly testing program for teachers and support staff in late July.

In some cases, contractors will be used to administer tests. For now, PCR nasal swabs will be used, though they take the longest to process. The state could transition to faster saliva testing if it proves accurate. Less-accurate antigen tests could become part of the plan as well.

"And possibly working to have those at schools, located eventually, where school nurses and other staff can be trained to come in and use some of those collection kits and have those processed where they’re rapid response times of 15 minutes to have your results," said Adrienne Rollins with the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The health department is also setting up a rapid response team for outbreaks, which will be three or more cases in a school. Rollins said they already have experience with similar situations.

"So, when we’ve had some … outbreaks, we’ve gone into some businesses that are quite large. And so, we have the ability to model that procedure and process for teacher testing," Rollins said.

Oklahoma’s estimated 90,000 teachers and support staff can still coordinate their own tests through local health departments.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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