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Free COVID-19 testing held for Hopewell School students

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 8:59 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 11:26 PM EDT
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - The Hopewell school system began the first of what will likely be a series of mass testing events for its student population. The school system partnered with the Department of Health to give out free COVID tests to its students Thursday after it saw more than 85 positive COVID cases weeks after schools opened.

The voluntary testing lasted from 4:30-7 p.m. at Hopewell High School. The drive-thru testing event comes nearly a week after Hopewell Schools tested more than 300 of its faculty and staff following a school closure due to a critical staffing shortage.

“The last couple of weeks have been difficult,” Superintendent Melody Hackney said.

No word was given on how many tests healthcare workers had on hand to give out, but the superintendent says every student who wanted one got one.

“In many of the cases that we have dealt with, the vast majority are asymptomatic, they didn’t know they have the virus,” Hackney said. “That’s one of the reasons why testing out staff and testing our students..is going to be so meaningful.”

Students who were 18 years old, did not need to have a parent or guardian with them as long as they had a valid I.D.

Test results will be made available to parents within two to three days. Students can still attend school in the meantime unless they have symptoms.

While the event was only for students, more information will be available in the future for opportunities where parents, family, and the community can be tested.

Earlier this week, the school system stopped short of mandating vaccines for teachers but is encouraging teachers that aren’t fully vaccinated yet to do so starting Sept. 6 so that they could be fully vaccinated by early October.

“Getting a vaccine, that’s a personal choice and I will never judge you for that decision, but I also have to keep our children safe,” Hackney said.

Hackney says, so far, nearly 80 percent of its teachers and staff are fully vaccinated for coronavirus with just over 75 percent of the entire staff population of Hopewell schools also being fully vaccinated.

Hopewell schools won’t be the last school division to undergo COVID-19 testing among teachers and students. The VDH is connecting voluntary school divisions with the COVID-19 testing vendors for weekly testing of students and staff populations to keep outbreaks under control.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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