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TPS Board Approves Agreement For System To Manage Rapid COVID Testing Program Results And Data

Matt Trotter

Tulsa Public Schools is partnering with a nonprofit to keep track of results from its rapid COVID-19 testing program and report them to participating students and staff.

The TPS Board approved an agreement with the nonprofit Project Beacon for a platform that can send results to district employees or students participating in the voluntary testing program. Its BinaxNOW system could not do that.

The action came in a special meeting Monday afternoon, less than a week after district officials discussed the matter with the Tulsa Health Department, a partner in the testing program.

Board member Jennettie Marshall voted against the agreement, saying the district’s quick action on the matter prevented families from raising concerns.

"And we can have the best intentions in the world, but our intentions can be misinterpreted when that voice is left out," Marshall said.

Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist answered questions about data privacy and other matters from board members.

"The process is working exactly the way we need the process to work, which is that our agendas are public, the public saw the item, the public raised their concerns to their board and now the board is bringing those to this discussion," Gist said.

The board also heard concerns about what test results might be used for. Board member John Croisant raised that matter with Gist, first noting how many people have opted in to the testing program. 

"So, 2,400 total people right now. And this isn't being used to close down schools and go back to distance learning in any way, shape or form, just as a diagnostic tool," Croisant said.

"So, actually, the more we know about asymptomatic spread within our buildings, the more rapidly we would be able to handle it, which means we’re going to be able to catch it before it becomes a problem," Gist said.

The agreement with Project Beacon is paid for with a grant awarded to THD. TPS students returned to their classrooms last week.

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