Schools bringing COVID-19 testing in-house via CDPHE program |

Schools bringing COVID-19 testing in-house via CDPHE program

Craig Middle School will welcome nearly 450 students back to school next week.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

In a letter sent to parents and guardians Tuesday, Moffat County School District announced that every school in the district is now enrolled in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s school COVID-19 testing program.

Myranda Lyons, the MCSD nurse, wrote that the program is free and voluntary, and students under 18 must receive consent from a guardian before joining the program. It will not cost the district anything to do these tests.

“We believe this is a critical step to keeping our students and teachers healthy and allowing us to continue in-person learning,” Lyons wrote. “The safety of our students and educators is our top priority.”

Students who opt-in can receive rewards from being part of the testing program. Regardless of vaccination status, a student is eligible to receive $25 for their first COVID-19 test in the program and then receive $10 for every subsequent test after that. At the allotted one test per week, a child can make up to $40 by opting in, with money coming in the form of a gift card sent to them in the mail. The gift cards will be recharged each month, and reward funds come from the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Reopening Schools award. Currently, federal funding for the program ends in July.

MCSD will also receive funds to help support the program. The district will receive $2.50 per test to cover school costs, paid retroactively and on a monthly basis.

CDPHE’s school testing program uses rapid antigen tests instead of PCR tests. Rapid test results can be ready in as little as 15 minutes, while PCR tests can take days to receive results. Rapid tests are also more cost effective, increase the likelihood of detecting an infection early and are less invasive.

According to the school district COVID-19 dashboard, there is only one school in the district that has a positivity rate over 1%. At the Early Childcare Center, 2.76% of the population has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the school to mandate masks for adults as required in the district’s reopening plan. At 3%, the district requires everyone — including students — to wear masks indoors.

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