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An exclusive look at WFPS rapid COVID-19 testing clinics

“It’s about identifying those cases before they step foot in the school.”
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 4:37 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The West Fargo school district is now offering free rapid tests to all staff, students, and their families. District officials said it’s another strategy put in place to help keeps students in school.

“It’s about identifying those cases before they step foot in the school. So even if we have more positives, it doesn’t necessarily equate to more exposure in school.” said West Fargo Schools’ Director of Health, Safety and Public Relations Heather Leas.

She said the district has been working hard to ensure students can stay in the classroom this year, and now anyone in the district can get tested.

“Test if they feel like they have symptoms, if they’ve recently been out of town, or even if they want to serial test just so they can stay on top of their health and their symptoms.” said Leas.

Sept. 20 was the first day of the clinics and Leas said out of more than 100 tests given, 6 came back positive.

“So those are potentially 6 people that would have come to school or went to work yesterday that didn’t know they were experiencing symptoms or positive for COVID-19.” said Leas.

The clinics are at 6 different locations across the district and staffed by local nursing students. Morgan Moore, a first year nursing student at MSUM, said she wishes clinics like these were available during her senior year of high school.

“Here it’s nice that you don’t have to quarantine and you can go to school that day, if you’re negative.” said Moore.

She added she is glad West Fargo is hosting the clinics to hopefully stop the spread of COVID-19 sooner.

Leas said with making testing widespread and more accessible case numbers could go up, but she said that doesn’t necessarily correlate to higher transmission in classrooms.

“Even if the positive numbers go up, that doesn’t necessarily mean more kids in school were exposed,” said Leas, “We feel like this is a really good thing for that reason.”

On Sept. 14, West Fargo schools reported 79 active COVID-19 cases among students. 34 in elementary, 23 in middle schools and 22 in high schools. The district reported 11 staff members testing positive.

Three days later on Sept. 17, the school district reported 87 active COVID-19 cases among students. Elementary school numbers jumped to 40, and both middle school and high school totals increased by one case each. However, case numbers for staff members dropped from 11 to 8.

The clinics will be held on:

Mondays from 7-9 a.m. at WF Sports Arena and the district office.

Tuesdays from 7-9 a.m. at Sheyenne High, Hulbert Aquatic Center, and Harwood Elementary and 4-6 p.m. at Horace Elementary.

Wednesdays from 7-9 a.m. at WF Sports Arena and the district office.

Thursdays from 7-9 a.m. at Sheyenne High and Hulbert Aquatic Center and from 4-6 p.m. at Horace Elementary, the district office, and Harwood Elementary.

Fridays from 7-9 a.m. at WF Sports Arena and the district office.

The clinics are funded by the state department of health and are free to those wanting to get tested.

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