Lake County Schools testing students, teachers for COVID-19 before classes begin

Lake County Schools is leading the way in Central Florida by providing all teachers, staff and students with COVID-19 testing before returning to school.

Free rapid coronavirus testing is underway for teachers and school staff this week.

On Monday, just under 2,000 COVID-19 finger-prick tests were administered and fewer than 20 came back positive.

”We think it’s really important that our students and our staff kind of have a baseline,” said Sherrie Owens, of Lake County Schools. “Everyone wants to know where they stand. Some people have symptoms, some don’t.”

The question that has been coming up lately concerns some people who continue to test positive for months, so what’s the solution in that situation?

“There’s a whole flow chart now that explains,” Owens said. “If that test comes back negative, they can return to school unless they are otherwise excluded by a state epidemiologist. If someone is symptomatic, they isolate, they take the test. If it’s positive, they’re asked to confirm with a PCR test. If that is positive as well, they’re asked to isolate until they have gone three days with no symptoms or for a minimum of 10 days.”

Lake County School officials said they want to start the school year off with an environment that is as safe and healthy as possible by screening everyone two weeks before classes begin.

It is the only school district in Central Florida taking this extra step.

Officials from Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Volusia and Brevard confirm they are not requiring teachers, staff or students to get tested prior to the start of the school year.

Next, Lake County Schools will test students both before and during the school year.

If anyone tests positive and has to quarantine at home, they can still keep up with their schoolwork.

“If they’re well enough, they can [attend virtual school],” Owens said. “All of our students will have a Chromebook laptop computer, and for those who are isolating or quarantining but are still feeling well enough where they can continue their learning, they will have the tools to be able to do that.”

And if teachers are well enough, will they teach from home or will there be a substitute teacher?

“It all depends on their health and their situation, so we’ll be fluid with that as well,” Owens said.

Officials said they will be announcing the dates and locations for Lake County students to be tested for COVID-19 very soon.