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Palm Beach County looking to expand COVID-19 testing to asymptomatic students

Posted at 8:02 AM, Sep 22, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The School District of Palm Beach County is looking for ways to continue expanding COVID-19 testing for the school community.

The district has surpassed 5,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases among students and staff this school year, but the number of cases reported each day has started to decline compared to this time last month.

According to school board documents, the Department of Health is set to receive a Reopening of Schools grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The money would help support COVID-19 testing for students and employees, including screening close contacts and follow up requirements. Right now, school nurses can perform rapid COVID-19 tests on campus for symptomatic students only, and with a parent's permission. This agreement would expand that to asymptomatic students and potentially staff, still on a voluntary basis and with parental consent.

It would also allow the school district to hire "health care facilitators" to assist the nurses on campus as testing expands.

The agreement said the expanded testing would begin at just a few select schools before being rolled out on a wider scale. A timeline has not been set.

The board meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday. You can read more about the agreement here.

The school district is also expanding testing opportunities in the Glades community. The district says an expanded collaboration with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County will increase accessibility and access to COVID-19 testing and monoclonal antibody treatment for district employees, students, and families in the Glades.

The Health Care District, in partnership with Palm Beach County, is offering free and voluntary drive-thru PCR and rapid-antigen testing at Lakeside Medical Center, located at 39200 Hooker Highway in Belle Glade. Testing is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except major holidays.

The Health Care District will also have monoclonal antibody treatments available at the same location for those 12 and older who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are at high risk for severe illness and hospitalization. The monoclonal antibody treatments are available at no cost to eligible individuals.