Rapid testing to be offered at Pasco County schools

Students and faculty in Pasco County schools will be able to determine if they have COVID-19 quicker than ever, the district announced Tuesday.

The school system is launching three COVID-19 testing sites that will be strictly for students and staff. The first one opens Wednesday at Land O' Lakes High School. The other two sites will be Gulf Middle School and Pasco Elementary School.

"What it's for is someone who shows symptoms, has not been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive but wants to get checked out," said Steve Hegarty, a spokesperson for Pasco County Schools. "We really don't want people missing school and missing work because they came down with some fairly common symptoms and they're caught up in this situation with COVID-19. If it has nothing to do with COVID-19, we learn that very quickly."

Hegarty said the test results should come back in 24 to 48 hours.

Don Peace, the president of the United School Employees of Pasco, called it "a step in a positive direction."

"We've had a staff member here in our office that was quarantined and went in for a test and waited 23 days to get a response," Peace told FOX 13. "Anything that we can do to expedite the process for employees or students to eliminate or certainly decrease downtime I think would be seen as an improvement."

This is a similar testing plan implemented by the Sarasota County school district. In Hillsborough County, quicker testing is only available for teachers and staff.