The San Diego Unified School District will provide two COVID-19 rapid tests for all of its students to self-test at home prior to returning to campus after winter break in January, it was announced Wednesday.
The iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Tests were provided by the California Department of Public Health and will be distributed to the more than 98,000 students in San Diego Unified this week, according to the district.
"Many students will be traveling or gathering with friends and family over the winter break, and with a recent uptick in case rates and the new Omicron variant, students may be exposed to COVID-19," said Richard Barrera, SDUSD's board of education president. "These at-home rapid tests will help all of our students and their families have greater peace of mind about returning to school safely in January."
According to the district, students should take the first self-administered test on Dec. 31 -- three days before their return to school. The second at-home test should be taken the morning of Jan. 3, before coming to school.
Those students who test positive in either test should stay home and contact their doctor and school right away and should follow any further instructions from the district before returning to campus.
"It’s just another way to help prevent the spread, hopefully," said grandfather Clyde Bilyeu. "If people will do it voluntarily or not, is another thing."
"If it’s left up to the parent's discretion, we’re not going to know what’s going on behind closed doors," said another parent. "So, like you said it's going to be based on the honor system so, we will see how it plays out."
In addition to the test kits, the district encouraged families to get vaccinated if they have yet to do so.
"We want our students and their families to take common-sense precautions to protect themselves so we can all return to a safe learning environment after the winter break," said Susan Barndollar, executive director of nursing and wellness for the district. "That includes not only using these at-home test kits, but also practicing good hygiene habits."
Students who miss the distribution of the test kits should plan to make appointments for testing through their health care provider or by visiting the county website to find free testing locations.