School districts, ECH offer on-campus COVID testing for teachers

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Zoe Morgan/Town Crier
Springer School custodian Raul Aguilar gets a COVID-19 test at a pop-up testing site in Egan Junior High School's gym Tuesday (Sept. 29).

Local educators now have the opportunity to get regular COVID-19 tests at pop-up sites on school campuses, as part of a partnership between four school districts and El Camino Health.

Roughly 400 tests have been conducted thus far for staff in the Los Altos, Mountain View Whisman, Sunnyvale and Mountain View Los Altos Union High school districts. El Camino is working with each of the four districts to set up temporary testing sites on local school campuses.

Egan Junior High School’s gym was turned into one of the sites Tuesday (Sept. 29). School psychologist Lila Elmished was among the LASD employees who participated.

“It’s really nice to just be able to get tested and have that peace of mind,” she said.

Elmished has begun meeting with students in person and said she was relieved testing will be regularly available. She added that getting tested also makes her feel safer interacting with her boyfriend’s parents, who are at high risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.

According to Superintendent Jeff Baier, partnering with El Camino to provide testing for staff is an important part of building confidence among employees as they begin interacting with students.

“As we have people gathering on campuses, we want to make sure that we’re not just following all the safety protocols around distance and cleaning, but also have the testing available,” he said.

The Los Altos School District has begun the process of resuming in-person classes, with small groups of special-education students coming back to campus this week.

Schools across Santa Clara County are now allowed to reopen, though many districts are choosing to remain online for the time being.

LASD is among the districts choosing to move forward with bringing students back. The district plans to have all grade levels on campus part time by the end of November, though families can still opt to stay remote.

By offering the tests at schools, El Camino Chief Nursing Officer Cheryl Reinking said she hopes to make it convenient for teachers and other employees to get tested regularly.

“We want to ensure that our teachers are safe and COVID-free,” she said.

The tests are being funded by the El Camino Healthcare District. When staff members get a test at one of the pop-up sites, Reinking said they can expect to get their results back within three days. Thus far, Baier said no LASD staff members have tested positive.

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