MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) President Biden is calling for increased access to COVID-19 testing in schools, announcing today he is invoking the Defense Protection Act to increase production of rapid tests.
This move may come as a relief to school districts here on the Central Coast. Monterey County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Deneen Guss says the state is expecting to see a shortage in testing supplies as cases and demand increase.
"We have not heard of any schools who say we do not have any tests available right now. What we have heard is that they're being told that they're not going to be able to receive the full order that they've ordered," Dr. Guss told KION.
Due to supply, the Carmel Unified School District is already having to switch from rapid tests to PCR tests, which take longer to get results. Carmel has already seen 24 positive cases in their schools, 18 of which were at Carmel High School.
Some school districts in Monterey County are also struggling to set up their own testing programs due to personnel training.
"The schools get the test kits for free, but the school has to have an individual that has gone through the appropriate training and are approved to monitor individuals administering the COVID test," says Dr. Guss.
Dr. Guss says San Antonio Union School District down in Lockwood is still trying to set up their own testing program. In the meantime, the County Office of Education is sending staff down to help test students and employees.
Schools can also consult with other vendors to provide testing. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education has partnered with Inspire Diagnostics. They have enough test kits available to test at their current capacity. But they say if they needed to start testing students more regularly, they might run into problems.
"The state has a supply, but it's not as large as it used to be. Those supplies are going to be prioritized for schools going forward. Other venues that use the BinaxNOW test for employee testing... we may have to switch over to another platform soon," said Santa Cruz County Deputy Health Officer David Ghillarducci.
Both the Santa Cruz Office of Education and the Monterey County Office of Education are providing free testing to all students in their schools. Santa Cruz County students can sign up here.
School and health officials are also encouraging all parents to get their students over the age of 12 vaccinated for COVID-19 to help kids stay healthy and in school.