A new free program in school districts across Connecticut is designed to help identify Covid-19 cases early and reduce the number of quarantines.
As the school year rolls on the state Department of Public Health along with the Department of Education continue to institute the new Project Covid Detect program – in-school testing for the virus for unvaccinated children.
"Project Covid Detect is a free weekly testing that we are offering through funding by the CDC to offer weekly Covid screening testing to all the eligible students in the state," DPH epidemiologist Kristin Gerard explains.
The epidemiologist says she’s heard positive reviews from parents who’ve already had their children participate.
“This can tell you and gives a peace of mind for parents whose kids were doing distance learning last year and there no distance learning this year. This another layer of that mitigation to help parents feel that their kid is safer in school,” says Gerard.
The new program is being offered to all public K-6 schools in the state and select grades 7-12th in the eight largest cities. Currently, 43 public schools districts have expressed interest and 150,000 students are eligible. Dr. Ulysses Wu, system director of Infectious Diseases at Hartford HealthCare says this could be a game-changer.
“If you are able to have surveillance on a general population and be able to detect cases, you are catching them before the horse leaves the barn for lack of a better term,” says Wu.
“It’s not just about the kids. Kids can spread it to other kids and kids can also spread it to adults. Adults who may be unvaccinated or even grandparents," Wu adds.
And parents and grandparents who spoke with NBC Connecticut Friday say that it’s been a struggle with kids over the past year in school so they’re on board.
“(My grandson) already missed two weeks of school because someone tested positive in his class so he had to come back and stay out of school for a couple of weeks,” says Bloomfield resident Kofi Atta-Mensah.
West Hartford resident Covina Spangenberg doesn’t have children of age to attend kindergarten yet but says even if her kids were in school, she wouldn’t mind.
“I think it would be a value just so we can reduce the number of cases and keep the hospitals available that don’t have Covid and need care or those that do and so they aren’t overrun even if it’s kids,” says Spangenberg.
Parents and guardians are recommended to reach out to their school district for more information.