Rapid COVID-19 tests planned for Manatee Co. teachers, school staff

When teachers and staff return to Manatee County Schools, rapid COVID-19 testing may be offered.

"Our staff and employees will have that security of knowing they can get tested and get results within 24 hours if not within an hour," said school board member and epidemiologist Dr. Scott Hopes.

Doctor Scott Hopes is a school board member and an epidemiologist. With students returning on August 17th he worries about the turn around time of outside COVID-19 testing.

"If we are unable to get results within a day or two, then it’s going to be very difficult for us to manage the epidemic in our community and schools," he said.

Dr. Hopes is working to secure a local lab or have tests done at two different school clinics. Having results back sooner lets officials and patients limit further spread of the disease and prevent more outbreaks.

"Within 10, 11, or 12 days, we can have that employee back on campus safe no longer contagious, rather than waiting 14 days or 21 days," said Dr.Hopes.

Dr. Hopes said tests could be purchased for as little as $6 to $12 each.

"I hope that providing this type of testing is one way that we can alleviate that concern and fear as much as possible," he said.

For now, it's just a plan. The Manatee County School Board will meet on Tuesday and they could be ready to vote.

"That perhaps gives us a unique opportunity in Manatee County to help lead the way in the state how we can safely reopen schools, but more importantly keep schools open as we move through the year," said Dr. Hopes.