Palm Beach County Schools to offer rapid COVID-19 testing

With an increase in COVID-19 cases, Palm Beach County School District is now able to offer their students, faculty and staff who are showing symptoms rapid COVID-19 testing.  

Dr. Donald E. Fennoy, Palm Beach County schools superintendent, sent out an email to faculty, staff, parents and guardians explaining more about the tests on Nov. 14. 

“The District will continue to remain vigilant and will soon embark on a major health initiative together with the Palm Beach County Health Care District and the Florida Department of Health, intended to keep students and staff even safer,” Fennoy said. “Shortly after Thanksgiving break, District nurses will have BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Tests available to students enrolled in in-person instruction for the first semester, who show potential symptoms of COVID-19” 

Students who become sick during school hours may be tested at school with parental or guardian consent. Parents or Guardians who do not want their student to be tested do not need to perform any further action. 

“In order to administer the test, parents or guardians must first provide their written consent to the School District,” Fennoy said. “For those who…want to offer consent, no further action is necessary.” 

To receive a rapid test, students must be showing COVID-19 symptoms during school hours. 

“We will only be testing students that are on campus and become sick during school hours,” Jacqueline Martyniuk, a Jupiter High School’s resident nurse, said. “Those students who may feel they ‘definitely had COVID-19’ in the past would not be considered for this rapid testing, but may consider Antibody testing if deemed necessary per the evaluation of a physician.” 

Martyniuk also noted students who test negative will not be allowed back in class.

“Also, regardless of having a negative test result, students will still be required to leave campus, and it would be recommended that they follow-up with a PCP,” Martyniuk said.

Kelly Foss, a Jupiter High School administrator, described how Jupiter High’s rapid tests will work.

“The Rapid response nasal swab tests will be available to both students and staff with consent. The school district is receiving 9,000 tests that will be distributed amongst schools,” Foss said. “The benefit of the nasal swab rapid test is a faster response, which to my knowledge, yields a response in about 15 minutes.”

With COVID-19 cases rising both in our state and nationwide, rapid tests will be a helpful tool for Palm Beach County to improve the procedures done to keep everyone safe. We asked Foss how she felt about the rising cases in the school district.

“I would say that I am aware and not alarmed. As of Nov. 12 at noon, we have had 12 total cases on campus. We have been averaging 1,250 students and 225 staff on campus daily, so our percent positive is fairly small,” Foss said. “Personally, I am good about wearing my mask, washing my hands and disinfecting surfaces in my office nightly.  I even have sanitizer attached to my staff ID, and I am constantly using it when I open doors.”