One Tyler school received an invitation from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office to participate in a COVID-19 rapid testing pilot program for students and staff within Texas school systems.
Grace Community School was among eight school districts across the state selected Wednesday for the pilot program, which is a collaboration between Abbott’s office, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Division of Emergency Management. The program will conduct rapid tests of district employees and students – with the written permission of their parents – to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at schools, the governor’s office said in a written statement.
Jay Ferguson, head of school at Grace Community School, said Grace is working to determine how the tests will be utilized.
“Gov. Abbott did ask Grace Community School to participate in a pilot program regarding the provision of COVID tests to public and private schools,” Ferguson said. “We are currently evaluating if and how we are going to use these tests.”
Under this program, TDEM will give participating schools COVID-19 rapid antigen tests to use on students, teachers and staff choosing to receive a test. Schools in the program will also receive protective equipment to administer the tests that give reliable results within 15 minutes, the governor’s office said.
“As more students return to campus for in-person instruction, the state of Texas is working alongside school officials to provide resources to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff,” Abbott said. “Thank you to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for providing these advanced antigen tests to the state of Texas. This rapid testing pilot program will be an effective strategy to protect the health and safety of students and staff while helping to further ensure that Texas students have access to a quality education throughout the pandemic and beyond.”
Schools interested in applying for the testing program can apply through the TEA by Oct. 28.
Longview ISD is the only other East Texas school chosen to participate in the program at this time. Other schools include Bob Hope School in Post Arthur, Fabens ISD, Granger ISD, Lampasas ISD, Harlingen Consolidated ISD and Ysleta ISD.