The Falmouth School Committee on Tuesday, October 13, authorized one-time COVID-19 tests for all school employees.
The testing program, provided at no charge by Concentric by Ginkgo, will be offered this month over a four-day period.
State Representative Dylan A. Fernandes contacted the Falmouth School District about the free, voluntary testing opportunity, Superintendent Lori S. Duerr told the school committee.
School nurses have volunteered to oversee the testing, which is a self-administered saliva test.
School employees who would like to be tested will sign up confidentially online and fill out a short survey, Dr. Duerr said.
The results of the tests, which will be available in 72 hours, will go directly to consulting school physician Dr. Greg Parkinson.
Dr. Parkinson will report the number of people who were tested and the number of positive results. The Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod will do contact tracing for those with positive results.
“It’s a legitimate test,” Falmouth Health Agent Scott McGann told the school committee. By participating, the school district would be “helping new technology work through the system,” he said. “Whenever you can get a test, get one.”
School employees have been asking about the possibility of being tested for COVID-19, Dr. Duerr told the committee, but tests are expensive and until this opportunity the district could not offer them.
While the tests are one time only, they will “give a baseline and can add some comfort to employees,” Dr. Duerr said.
Mr. McGann took the opportunity at the school committee meeting to make a plug for the upcoming drive-thru flu clinic, to be held at the Gus Canty Community Center on Monday, October 26, from 2 to 5 PM.
To register for the clinic, people are asked to call the Falmouth Health Department at 508-495-7485. Mr. McGann said he has a number of flu shots available for those without insurance. Once the appointments for the clinic are filled he will keep a waiting list, he said.
On the topic of the flu, Mr. McGann said that the Southern Hemisphere, which is just coming out of winter, has seen the lowest incidence of the flu ever, due to mask wearing and social distancing.
On other matters, Falmouth High School Principal Mary W. Gans gave the school committee an update on sports.
At the request of students and parents, and after observing other school districts, high school staff have reconsidered allowing spectators to attend sporting events.
Each athlete on a high school team can now invite two immediate household members to attend games. Spectators from the opposing teams’ towns are still not allowed.
“It has gone extremely well,” Ms. Gans said. “Everyone is wearing masks and following the rules.”
Additionally, out-of-season workouts for football players are now allowed. The high school football coach can put together a workout plan, including training, conditioning and some drills for the football team, Ms. Gans said.
Students and parents advocated for the workouts, which get “the kids together as a team,” she said. “We’re looking toward February and hoping they will be able to play.”