Rapid COVID-19 testing for students, staff in San Mateo Co.

Three counties in California are participating in an eight-week pilot program that would administer rapid COVID-19 tests to students and staff with results in 15 minutes.

Video Transcript

LYANNE MELENDEZ: For five-year-old Nisi Vaca, testing for the coronavirus--

- Oh, you are good at this.

LYANNE MELENDEZ: --has become part of her safety routine at school. Twice a week, with the guidance of a testing site coordinator, she knows how to gently insert a swab in both nostrils to test for the virus.

- 13, 14, 15. That's it!

ANNE ROY: The test, it is a nasal swab. But it is not the deep swab that goes up into your brain, which honestly I see videos and it made me anxious.

NISI VACA: It feels like it tickles. Then when I put in in this side, it feeled like it tickled again.

LYANNE MELENDEZ: Similar to a pregnancy test, the results show up within 15 minutes.

ANNE ROY: The two times a week is to catch any infections that are coming in before they have a chance to spread.

LYANNE MELENDEZ: There are three counties in California that are part of this pilot program-- Los Angeles, Merced, and San Mateo.

San Mateo County has three school districts participating-- Redwood City School District, Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto, and La Honda-Pescadero Unified. The idea is to eventually make it accessible to other school districts in California.

ANTHONY ITON: We think we can make those school buildings as safe as conceivably possible, which will allow teachers to come back confidently and not be worried about contracting a disease that could theoretically kill them.

LYANNE MELENDEZ: The California Endowment is an organization that brings health care to underserved communities. They and other partners are funding the program at a cost of $2.4 million.

So if these kids can be tested frequently, twice a week, the expectation is that the number of cases in these communities is likely to eventually go down.

GINA SUDARIA: We want to emphasize the mask wearing. We want to emphasize the social distancing. And that testing lets us know if we're doing what we need to do to protect ourselves.

LYANNE MELENDEZ: A total of 300 kids in the Ravenswood City School District alone will continue to be tested.

In East Palo Alto, Lyanne Melendez--

- High-five. Excellent!

LYANNE MELENDEZ: ABC7 News.