HCISD picked for virus testing program

Rapid-results pilot project for staff, students

HARLINGEN — The Harlingen school district feels privileged to be part of a pilot program using COVID tests which offer up quick results.

“Harlingen CISD is honored to be selected as a participant in the COVID-19 Campus Level Testing Pilot,” said Superintendent Art Cavazos.

“As one of the eight school systems from across the state to receive access to these rapids tests, we have an outstanding opportunity to inform and improve state-wide health and safety practices,” he said.

Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Division of Emergency Management announced earlier this week the creation of a COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program for Texas school systems. The governor’s website says the program will help schools conduct rapid tests of district employees and students, with written permission of their parents, “to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campuses.

“Through this program,” says the website, “TDEM will provide participating school systems with COVID-19 rapid antigen tests that will be administered to students, teachers, and staff who choose to participate.”

The program is being launched with Harlingen and seven other school systems with plans to extend it across the state. Texas public and private schools interested in applying for the testing program will be able to apply through the Texas Education Agency no later than Oct. 28, says the governor’s website.

These “rapid tests” reveal results in only 15 minutes, said Shane Strubhart, spokesperson for the district.

“It’s part of the millions of tests being provided to Texas from the federal government,” Strubhart said. “It requires a nasal swab. The tests are going to be provided to us by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. We have to decide which school or which program we’re going to conduct the pilot program at.”

Strubhart said the district will also receive some personal protective equipment for those administering the tests.

Cavazos thanked Abbott, TEA and TDEM for thinking of Harlingen CISD as a qualified school community for the program.

“We look forward to working hand-in-hand in creating systems that will enhance school safety,” Cavazos said. “We will continue to keep our HCISD community informed as we learn more from the state agencies about this pilot program.”

School administrators planned to attend a webinar Friday night to learn more about the program.

School systems participating in the pilot of the COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program
Harlingen CISD
Bob Hope School (Port Arthur)
Fabens ISD
Grace Community School (Tyler)
Granger ISD
Lampasas ISD
Longview ISD
Ysleta ISD

twhitehead@valleystar.com