Oregonians want our children to be safe and our schools open. Oregon has received $ 127 million in federal funding for asymptomatic screening for COVID-19 in K-12 schools. As COVID-19 continues to spread, we must use testing programs as a vital tool in this fight.
Several states are forming partnerships to administer rapid tests according to CDC guidelines, and many districts have implemented school screening. Funds allocated to Oregon could allow providers to offer comprehensive support for testing at school sites, including outreach, test kits, technical assistance, and data collection while protecting privacy students.
Rapid tests are a key strategy to keep schools safe by identifying positive infections, especially in children, who are often asymptomatic, before they can spread to others. Regular screening of students would provide safer in-person instructions, curb COVID-19 outbreaks, and reduce costly interruptions to education. Oregon should prioritize testing in areas with moderate to high levels of transmission, where vaccination rates are lowest, and where the benefits to vulnerable populations are greatest.
We know COVID-19 disproportionately affects Blacks, Indigenous people and other people of color who face higher levels of morbidity and mortality, higher community transmission rates, and lower vaccination rates. . An effective approach to testing will ensure that we do not reinforce these inequalities.
Representing parents, doctors, healthcare workers and teachers, we call Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority are engaging with the community to create a robust, fair, agile, efficient and accessible screening program. If we don’t act, COVID-19 variants will continue to spread and cause major disruption in schools, pushing teachers, staff and families to the breaking point.
Sharon Meieran and Kindra Crick
Meieran, physician, is Commissioner of Multnomah County. Crick, who has a degree in molecular biology, has kids in Portland public schools.