Rapid COVID-19 testing may begin late this week, early next week in Palm Beach County schools

BinaxNOW antigen test can detect COVID-19 within 15 minutes, health officials say
BinaxNOW COVID-19 antigen rapid tests
Posted at 1:41 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 13:46:13-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Rapid COVID-19 testing on students and staff members in Palm Beach County schools will likely begin late this week or early next week, officials say.

A spokeswoman for the School District of Palm Beach County said Wednesday the Health Care District of Palm Beach County has distributed the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test, which can detect COVID-19 with 15 minutes, to 75% of schools with distribution ongoing.

There are currently a little more than 13,000 rapid tests available for schools in the county.

Only trained school nurses will administer the test to students or staff members who are symptomatic.

The BinaxNOW test, which is FDA approved, is more than 80% accurate, according to health officials. The test is administered via a nasal swab and the results come within 15 minutes.

The test will be given to students with a two-step consent process.

First, parents will need to sign and return a permission slip to allow their child to get tested. If a child goes to the nurse with symptoms of COVID-19, there's another layer of consent before a test can be administered.

The child's parent will receive a phone call and, if the child is in second grade or younger, that parent must be present for the test to be given.

If the child is in grades 3-12, the parent can be present or give verbal permission over the phone. Regardless of a positive or negative result from the rapid test, the child will be sent home and may be referred for follow-up testing.

"I think it will allow us, families and staff, to have a little more comfort," Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy told WPTV's Stephanie Susskind during an interview last month. "We said from the beginning, once we bring kids back, normal school things happen, and kids bring sniffles and coughs and those things, and now we need to know what it is. So with the state providing this antigen testing, it will allow us one step closer to being clear as to who is in our buildings and how we handle it and having accurate information."

According to the latest numbers from the School District of Palm Beach County, 489 students and 366 school district employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since Sept. 16.