Eagle County Schools opts into state program offering rapid COVID-19 test kits
The BinaxNOW test kits give results within 15 minutes
Eagle County Schools is participating in a new Colorado program that will provide BinaxNOW rapid home coronavirus test kits for school staff and educators, district officials announced Friday.
Colorado is one of three states so far offering the rapid test kits to school districts. The program was announced this week by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“CDPHE is working to make home BinaxNOW tests available through the end of this school year to all districts and private schools that opt into the program,” the department said in a news release announcing the program.
The goal is to provide quicker and easier testing for teachers and school staff, particularly those who frequently work in close contact with others, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
The BinaxNOW rapid test kits provide results within 15 minutes. The test was developed by Abbott Laboratories and the first month of test kits will contain enough cards and swabs for participating teachers and school staff to test every five days. It has not yet been announced when the test kits will arrive.
Eagle County Schools plans to make the tests available to all staff members who are interested in participating, which will be optional and on a voluntary basis.
“I’m excited about the BinaxNow program,” Eagle County Schools Superintendent Philip Qualman said in a news release announcing the district’s decision to participate in the state program. “Reaffirming that you’re negative every five days can reduce fear and anxiety among our staff. This tool, combined with forthcoming vaccines, create a very positive outlook for the second half of this school year,” Qualman said.
The cost of the first month of kits will be covered by the state. Cost-sharing details for later months are yet to be determined, Eagle County Schools said.
The BinaxNOW tests can be completed at home, following instructions through a virtual Telehealth session. The test involves swabbing inside the nose, adding reagent to a testing card, and folding the card around the nasal swab.
The testing kit is also paired with a smartphone app called NAVICA. The app allows people who test negative to have a temporary encrypted digital health pass that renews each time a person tests negative.
Teachers and staff at Eagle County Schools currently self-report their lack of COVID-19 symptoms each day before work. The BinaxNow tests will be more accurate and can also detect asymptomatic COVID-19 infections, helping the district and its staff feel more confident in the safety of learning environments.
“If used consistently and broadly among staff, the weekly testing confirms health and more quickly identifies positive cases so that they can quarantine sooner and reduce the risk of having close contact with others,” the school district said. “For staff instructed to quarantine due to close contact with a positive case, a negative test after the fifth day of exposure can help them return to work sooner than the full quarantine period.”
The BinaxNOW testing kit received emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in mid-December. Abbott Laboratories and its partner, eMed, have said they expect to deliver and administer 30 million BinaxNOW test kits in the first quarter of 2020 and an additional 90 million test kits in the second quarter.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at email@example.com.
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