K-12 Students To Be Tested For COVID In Schools

 1558088354 
1629104951
A health care worker administers a swab test for COVID-19.

A health care worker administers a swab test for COVID-19.

Cpl. Sarah Marshall from the U.S. Marine Corp, Wiki Commons

A $147 million program to test kindergarten through 12-grade students for COVID in Alabama’s public and private schools is to begin within a few weeks, UAB, education and health officials said Monday.

Schools will test asymptomatic teachers, staff and students over age 12, with parental permission. Officials will use rapid antigen testing for quick results.

“It is voluntary, safe and free,” said Martha Wingate, chair of the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy in UAB’s School of Public Health.

Schools are responsible for reporting test results to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“It is another tool to stem the flow of COVID,” Wingate said.

One school in the state, which Wingate did not identify, will launch the pilot program over the next few weeks.

Dr. Karen Landers of the Alabama Department of Public Health said the Delta variant of COVID is transmitted somewhat differently, and asymptomatic adults and children can spread the virus more easily.

“We understand that the Delta variant represents 90% of what we are seeing in Alabama, if not more. We need asymptomatic data as it is a way to reduce the risk in the school system,” Landers said. “And we need to get away from the understanding that children do not get sick and transmit COVID.”

If a student tests positive for COVID, he or she will be quarantined for 10 days, according to ADPH guidelines.

“It’s a further way to protect our children,“ Landers said. “That is why testing is such as great tool, and it augments keeping our kids safe.”

Wingate said the state Department of Education received positive responses when it polled school districts last spring to see if there was interest in in-school testing.

The $147 million that Alabama will get to test the state’s 800,000 K-12 students comes from President Biden’s $10 billion American Rescue Plan.

 

WBHM to launch podcast featuring in-depth reporting on Alabama’s prisons.

WBHM 90.3 FM is launching a podcast, “Deliberate Indifference: the story of Alabama’s prison crisis and the people inside it,” the product of reporter Mary Scott Hodgin’s in-depth research on Alabama’s prisons. The first episode will be available Wednesday, May 18. Listen at DeliberateIndifference.org or wherever podcasts are available.

Judge’s ruling a “sigh of relief” for families of transgender youth

A federal judge in Alabama ruled to block part of a law that makes it a felony to provide gender-affirming care to minors on Friday. Families with transgender kids tell WBHM they are cautiously relieved.

Transgender medication law in Alabama blocked by judge

The law made it a felony to prescribe gender-affirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors. U.S. District Judge Liles Burke issued a preliminary injunction to stop the state from enforcing the medication ban, which took effect May 8, while a court challenge goes forward.

JeffCo Probate Judge: tightened security will delay voting returns in the primaries

Jefferson County’s chief election official is warning that a new voting security measure will delay returns from the May 24 primary elections.

Inside the manhunt for an escaped murder suspect and jailer

U.S. marshals and sheriff’s deputies led an 11-day manhunt for an Alabama murder suspect and jailer who were heavily armed and preparing for a shootout when they were captured.

Alabama jailbreak mystery deepens as manhunt ends with death

Jailer Vicky White was pronounced dead at a hospital after murder suspect Casey White gave up without a fight in Evansville, Indiana. The fugitives had spent more than a week on the run through three states.

More BirminghamWatch Coverage