In northern San Diego County, Escondido Union School District has been providing COVID-19 testing for staff, students, and their families following a surge in cases after school resumed following the winter break.
Escondido is home to more than 150,000 residents, and the latest COVID-19 county numbers say more than 34,000 residents have tested positive for the virus.
The Escondido Union School District says around 1,000 COVID-19 tests were issued last week to students, staff, and their families at its testing site off Aldergrove Avenue behind the district officers. However, this comes after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases that the district says resulted in 500-700 tests being offered in one day.
After winter break and near the beginning of January, Luis Rankins-Ibarra, the district superintendent, said the district had to make changes when it came to their testing site. In just three days, an upgraded testing site was built. At capacity and if necessary, up the 12 cars at a time can pull up to the white tents to get an antigen or PCR test.
“For us to see a need, came back from winter break and saw the lines of people and the need throughout the community,” Rankins-Ibarra said. “It was like alright, let’s pull a team together, and let’s get this accomplished.”
Since then, lines aren’t as long, and the number of tests being offered has decreased. Still, staff, students, and their families from the 24 schools in the district are utilizing the resources.
“Once they get their test, they can wait here for 15 minutes, we have waiting stalls,” Rankins-Ibarra said. “You can also get them from your phone and leave the site. Those results come within 20 minutes.”
For PCR tests, it’s still about a 48-window before results are ready.
On Monday, sitting in the backseat of a car parked in one of those stalls was Brianna Carrasco, a student in the K-8 school district.
“We’re here to take another test to see if we get negative to go back to school,” Carrasco said.
Patients will get those results, and the district has mapped out an organized way to track those positive cases. Through an online dashboard, human resources can see which staff member is going to be absent and who is going to fill their spot, which could be any credentialed employee from the district.
During the highest point of the surge, Rankins-Ibarra said the number of staff that were out reached 181. He says, since last week, they’ve been able to keep that number below 100.
“As we’re looking at the trends, you can kind of project and forecast what’s going to happen and you can see the height of our surge, and then we are now starting to be on the downhill slide and we’re starting to project out,” Rankins-Ibarra said.
The dashboard is being heavily relied on to track COVID-19 cases, but, Rankins-Ibarra says it’s a useful tool that will be used in school years to come, particularly around flu season.