EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) announced on Wednesday the creation of a COVID-19 rapid testing pilot program for Texas school systems. This program will help schools conduct rapid tests of district employees and students — with the written permission of their parents — to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campuses.
Among the participating school districts: Fabens Independent Schools District and the Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso.
“I think they want to see how it works in a larger school district and a much larger environment with the ability to scale it up and get it to everyone,” said Ysleta ISD superintendent Dr. Xavier De La Torre.
Schools enrolled in the program will also receive personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely administer the rapid tests, which produce reliable results within 15 minutes.
“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,” said Governor Abbott. “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.”
This past week, Ysleta ISD began testing faculty and student-athletes before competition.
“We can say with a high-degree of assurance that our student-athletes are COVID-free,” said De La Torre.
Just three weeks into the high school football season, 15 games have been postponed or canceled altogether. Many coaches believe the safest way to conduct a season is to have access to testing.
“I think the only way you’re able to truly contact trace and know who is safely on the field or not, on the court or not, and in the classroom or not — it’s to test,” said Eastwood head football coach and athletic coordinator Julio Lopez.
Participating school systems
Bob Hope School (Port Arthur)
Grace Community School (Tyler)
Harlingen Consolidated ISD