Leah Leviton: Nurse: COVID testing key to reopening schools

Published: 7/23/2020 6:36:58 PM

I had wanted to just communicate as a member of the health care community, and nurse at one of our busy local hospitals during this crazy time, that I believe that it is extremely important to be pushing, advocating and preparing for communitywide and consistent COVID testing to be our key and primary line of defense for managing our return to learning in our local public schools.

I don’t see the discussion of testing in the return to school planning and I think this may be a major oversight in communication from health care to education.

We are at a point in which we are finally getting a reprieve as our numbers go down in our region and it is almost like an opportunity for a "do-over" from last March. From the end of Feburary through March we were clamoring in the hospital for access to testing (it was not until April that we were even beginning to have access). If we had access at that point to have all persons begin weekly testing, we could have drastically changed our trajectory with the ability to manage and contain spread and care for people properly.

I believe we need all families and teachers to begin weekly testing before start of school, we then must quarantine and contain each positive as they roll through our community in a contained and careful manner while allowing other learners to continue. If we have periods of widespread increased positives we must be able to rollover to distance learning for periods of time.

This tool alongside contact tracing becomes completely untenable when numbers are surging and health care loses its proper functioning. That is why it is imperative that we put this protocol in place during our reprieve or "do-over" moment while numbers are low — as they become highly effective and in fact the most important tools we have when used now!

The universities are putting these protocols in place now, and I believe the cost will be far lower than other interventions if prepared for now for all elementary and high schools. Families need easy, understandable access to drive-through testing and the kids all need to get comfortable with nasal and oral swabbing regularly to support our greater community in getting to the other side of this.

Leah Leviton, RN

Mercy Medical Center


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