Autauga County schools offer free weekly COVID-19 tests to students, staff

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PRATTVILLE — The Autauga County Board of Education is providing onsite, weekly COVID-19 testing for students and staff.

Schools are working with the Alabama Department of Education and the University of Alabama at Birmingham to provide the free service. Students will need parental/guardian approval to take the tests.

"This will be a big help," said Superintendent Tim Tidmore. "We may be able to catch cases early and shorten some isolations with negative tests."

COVID tests are in short supply, and like other school systems in the state, Autauga County has seen a massive increase in COVID case numbers among students and staff isolating.

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As of Friday, the system had 290 cases, with 239 students and 51 staff having COVID. That compares to 128 cases Jan. 7. The absences led to the system going to virtual learning Thursday and Friday. Schools are expected to return to in class instruction on Tuesday.

For the tests teams will visit each of the 13 schools in the system once a week. Test results should be back within 24 hours. School employees will not be part of the testing.

"Which is great news," Tidmore went on. "Our nurses are busy enough right now."

School nurses are the point of the spear in the COVID campaign, keeping track of cases, isolation requirements and conducting contact tracing.

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Montgomery Public Schools started a similar testing effort in December. The testing started out with the elementary grades and is being expanded systemwide. There will be no testing done next week as Montgomery schools are virtual learning.

Testing is not provided and no plans are to provide testing in Elmore County Schools, said Superintendent Richard Dennis.

"We did discuss it but previous attempts to make vaccinations available were not pursued significantly and this would likely be received the same way," Dennis said.

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Marty Roney at mroney@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Autauga County schools to offer free COVID-19 tests to students, staff

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