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Covid-19 Testing Begins In Schools, Will Be Ramped Up Later In Year

A program to test students and staff in township schools for the coronavirus on an ongoing basis began in two schools on October 28.

The tests were given to staff and students at Franklin High School and Claremont Elementary School, said district spokeswoman Mary Clark.

Clark said that approximately eight adults and six students were tested at CES and that 7 adults and 17 students were tested at FHS.

The majority of the tests given in the high school were taken by some of the roughly 350 athletes at the high school for fall sports, she said.

She said there are approximately 48 middle school and high school students in programs in FHS and 125 students in the programs at Claremont.

Clark said there are an additional 20 Road to Success students at the high school, but they were not tested “as they travel to the Career Center for part of the day.”

The organization conducting the tests is Interfaith Urgent Care, she said. There is no cost to the person being tested, but anyone who has insurance is asked to provide that information.

“I believe the organization seeks federal reimbursement for those without insurance,” she said.

Students in specialized programs have been in four schools in the township since the beginning of October. The decision was made by the district administration to initially offer the tests to staff and students in the two largest programs, those being FHS and CES, Clark said.

Consent forms for the students to be tested were sent to parents several weeks ago, Clark said.

All students whose parents consented to the tests were administered them on October 28, Clark said. But, she said, that won’t be the case once the remainder of the students in the so-called “hybrid” in-person learning plan return to the school late in November.

Clark said that about 3,612 of the 6,915 students in the district have opted for the in-person hybrid program, through which students will be divided into two teams (blue and gold), with one team in school from Monday through Thursday of any one week while the other team learns remotely.

When the program is in full effect, the names of students who want to be tested will be entered into a pool, and only about 10 percent of those will be chosen in any one week.

“That population will change as one group (blue team) of students will be in one week and the other group (gold team) would be tested the following week,” Clark wrote in an email. “The purpose of offering the test is to give families the opportunity to have their children tested.

“Testing all participants every week would be too time consuming and would unduly take away from instructional time for those who were repeatedly tested,” she wrote.

“The initial number of families who have chosen to participate has been low, but we anticipate the number will grow as more students return to in-person instruction in late November,” schools Superintendent John Ravally said in an email. “We plan to reach out to the remaining student families in early November with more details about this testing opportunity.”

“We hope that this testing will provide valuable information to our student families and strengthen our ability to keep our school community safe,” Ravally wrote.

Mayor Phil Kramer said at the October 27 Township Council meeting that he and the administration worked out the details for the testing program.

“This is to try and catch any outbreak in schools,” he said. “This has been incredibly more difficult than I thought to arrange. Multiple meetings, a lot of technicalities, but this is going to happen.”

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