CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. — School districts are wondering if testing kids' saliva could help keep classrooms open through the COVID-19 pandemic.
A handful of students at Clear Creek High School (CCHS) have already signed up to get tested for COVID twice a week at school.
The testing program is set to begin in the next two weeks for high school and middle school students – elementary students will be included later on in the program.
"It’s still a relatively new thing to say we’re going to administer a test at school that’s got to do with your health," said Karen Quanbeck, the Clear Creek superintendent. "I think that gives us another layer of protection, another layer of information."
Quanbeck hopes regular COVID testing at schools could stop outbreaks before they happen and they're asking kids to simply spit in a cup.
"How can you not want to spit in a cup at school, right?! There’s a certain element of fun to that," said Quanbeck. "I think we’ve heard from kids already. Hey, if this allows me to do more things and to keep others around me safe, then it's worth it."
A lot of normal-sounding school activities like prom, sports and graduation have been canceled this year. CCHS student Campbell Houston wants to get those back.
"My perspective is coming as an athlete and a football player," said Houston, who is starting his senior football season in the coming weeks. "My parents are older and they’ve both had the vaccine. But still, I’m going to be coming into contact with people who I don’t know without a mask on. Testing just makes a lot of sense as an athlete."
Houston is opting-in for the COVID testing program, encouraging his friends and teammates to stay safe in the pandemic.
"Talking to kids on the team, like hey, be smart, don’t go to parties, wear your mask, don’t hang out with people who you know aren’t really making good decisions," said Houston. "If we can know who is sick or who isn’t sick, it can help us not have to cancel games and help us still have a season."
Brian Tracey is a school counselor in Clear Creek. He’ll get tested twice a week too.
Tracy said he’s been helping a lot more kids with mental health resources this year.
"We’re spitting into a tube at school. It sounds weird, but the school year has been weird," said Tracey. "I owe it to the students. I also owe it to their families as well."
The testing program is set to begin in the coming weeks after spring break. Other districts in the state have also begun implementing or considering similar testing programs.
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