It may seem like summer vacation just, but the school year will be back before most students know it.
In preparation for campuses returning to full capacity, San Diego State University is launching a pilot program to determine whether self-testing students and their families can help keep schools safe.
Starting in August, SDSU will distribute 6,000 home COVID-19 testing kits at a middle school in the Sweetwater Union High School District.
Campuses within the district are all located in San Diego’s South Bay, one of the areas that was hit the hardest by the coronavirus.
Through this program, SDSU hopes to stop the virus from coming into the area the way it did last year.
“I think it's a good program, I would not object at all,” SUHSD parent Lizelle Rivadeneyra said, adding “It's just a swab in the nose, it's not the end of the world.”
The plan is for the pilot program to be rolled out in one of the district’s middle schools this fall. The campus hasn’t been chosen yet. Participation is strictly voluntary but those who chose to participate must test themselves with an at home kit every two weeks.
“They’ll pick-up a bundle from us, they'll take it home with them, test every two weeks and our whole goal is to keep COVID out of the schools,” said Corinne McDaniels-Davidson, director of SDSU’s Public Health Institute.
McDaniels-Davidson is overseeing the pilot program
“We will be able to identify high risk, maybe unvaccinated household members who have the virus, maybe before they pass it to the middle schooler and especially before that middle schooler then goes into the school environment,” she explained.
For Rivadeneyra, being a part of the program would mean piece of mind.
She, along with her daughter who is an 8th grader at Hilltop Middle School, and her husband have been vaccinated, but her son who is only 7 years old is not eligible.
“[My daughter] is safer and to a degree it protects the rest of the family as well,” Rivadeneyra said.
In addition to the at-home test, SDSU will also conduct surveys at schools to learn more about what kind of resources and information families need.
Their hope is to stop COVID-19 from causing more harm in a community already devastated by the disease.
Organizers say they hope to pick a school and have everything ready for launch by next month.