CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- Free coronavirus testing will soon be available to students and staff in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. This week, the board voted to approve a plan to make that happen.
Testing would move the state’s largest elementary school district closer to in-person learning. The district is partnering with bioscience company, Kahala, to provide the free tests.
Testing would be voluntary for students, teachers and staff. Participants would be tested every two weeks for the virus and once for antibodies.
On-site testing would be available at five schools to start and would later expand to more locations. Kahala will bill the participant’s insurance to cover the cost.
The district says the idea is to determine the level of active cases so they can mitigate the spread.
The plan is already drawing some criticism from teachers. Susan Skala with the Chula Vista Educators Union is worried about working with Kahala since the company formed early this year.
“We simply don’t know enough about it because this program has been what we feel has been rushed through,” said Skala. “We’re not sure about how our medical data would be secure, we’re not sure about the confidentially and integrity of the program.”
Dr. Michael Miyamoto is the Chief Medical Officer of Kahala. He says their staff is composed of practicing physicians. They have current partnerships with private companies and health care facilities for employee testing.
Miyamoto says their tests are authorized by the FDA for emergency use.
“Many, if not most of the diagnostic tests and treatments for COVID-19 are authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization,” said Miyamoto. “This was done because a lot of the regulatory review of these needed to be done very quickly in order to get these test and therapeutics out for use by healthcare practitioners.”
He says the more people that volunteer, the better.
“If we have a reasonable sampling the information will be very helpful in making decisions but also as a model for other school systems around the country,” he said.
The Chula Vista Elementary District says they haven’t decided which schools to use as testing sites yet, but they will be available to anyone in the district.
“Our learning community from any of our systems can access any of those five to six sites for that testing,” said Anthony Millican with CVESD.
The district is also partnering with the County Health and Human Services Agency as well as the City of Chula Vista. Those programs have free testing options for families without health insurance.
The district does not have a scheduled date for returning to in-person learning. They are in the process of scheduling when on-site testing will begin.