HONOLULU (AP) — Some Hawaii schools are participating in a state Department of Health program that provides COVID-19 testing for students, teachers and staff.
Most of the public schools that have registered haven't started testing yet, but state Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble told members of the Hawaii House Committee on Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness the program is moving quickly, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
The federally funded program is voluntary and open to private and public schools.
So far, 161 of the state's 257 public schools have registered for the program and 59 have started conducting tests.
Some schools are trying to figure out how to staff the program, Kemble said. The person who oversees campus testing doesn't need a medical background.
Students can be tested weekly, health department spokesperson Brooks Baehr told the newspaper. If students develop COVID-19 symptoms at school, or come into contact with someone who tests positive, parents can have them tested at school.
The nasal swab tests are sent to a lab on the U.S. mainland. It will take about three days to get results.
The turnaround time for test results is “distressing,” Osa Tui, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, told the newspaper.
Tui said it's troubling that more than six weeks into the school year, testing is not available at more schools, Hawaii News Now reported.
“I think it’s important that the kids who are vaccinated and unvaccinated are able to get tested for not only the parents' peace of mind, but for the teachers as well," parent Gail Dias told the news station.
Children 11 and younger are not yet eligible for the vaccine.