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Richmond Public Schools hands out 8,000 COVID-19 tests ahead of return to class

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 8:47 AM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Cars wrapped around Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School on Sunday as students, their families, and Richmond Public Schools’ staff members picked up their at-home COVID-19 test kits.

Thanks to a partnership with the Virginia Department of Health, RPS was able to get 8,000 COVID-19 tests to be used before the first day back to school.

Test kits were given out at the four schools used for food distribution before winter break. Any RPS family could visit any of the schools but some schools ran out of kits before the distribution was expected to end.

“Broad Rock Elementary and then actually over here at Henderson Middle, those two schools are now out of tests,” Sarah Abubaker with Richmond Public Schools said.

Families in those areas were asked to drive to other schools like MLK Middle to pick up a kit.

Superintendent Jason Kamras wants all students to be tested before returning to school, with Tuesday being the earliest day after school was canceled on Monday for potential snow.

“If they are negative then they can come to school, if they are positive then they should report that to RPS, let us know and then they should start quarantining,” Abubaker said.

While it can be difficult to find a test, some staff members like Lolita Brown-Wilson says the test gives her peace of mind as she gets ready to return to work with her students.

“You know I’m glad that I found out about them passing the test out so that the parents do use it, you know you want to know, you want to know,” Brown-Wilson said.

For families who were unable to receive a test on Sunday, RPS says it will wait a week before implementing its test to stay program.

RPS will give students in close contact with someone who is COVID positive an at-home test to be taken each night.

It’s an attempt to keep students in school instead of missing five days the CDC recommends when having to quarantine.

If a student is negative they’ll be able to return back to school.

“We want to keep our kids in schools but we also want to keep everyone safe and healthy,” Abubaker said.

Some other steps RPS will be taking on their return to school is testing non-vaccinated staff weekly, providing a quarter of a million K95 masks to students and staff, and vaccination events at schools later this month.

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