SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego State University will distribute 6,000 home testing kits for COVID-19 at Sweetwater Middle School; part of a pilot program to determine whether self- testing of students' high-risk family members can help keep schools safe.
The tests will be distributed to families at an as-yet undesignated school in the Sweetwater Union High School District, which includes some of San Diego County's most heavily Latino communities and returns to in-person classes on July 21.
"The idea is to catch it before it transmits to the middle schooler or before that middle schooler comes to campus," said Corinne McDaniels- Davidson, director of the Institute for Public Health at SDSU. "We need to step up and protect our students so that they can focus on their schooling."
The $300,000, one-year project is one of eight grants awarded by the RADx-UP Rapid Research Pilot Program through the Coordination and Data Collection Center at Duke University and part of a $1.4 billion initiative from the National Institutes of Health.
Targets of the SDSU study are unvaccinated or otherwise high-risk individuals living with children of middle-school age. Nasal swab tests will be self-administered, inserted into a liquid, then placed on a test strip, photographed and then analyzed through a smartphone or tablet computer app. Plans call for testing about once every two weeks.
Investigators will follow up with anyone who tests positive to confirm the results and link them to resources so they can safely isolate at home.
One aim of the pilot project -- dubbed "Communities Fighting COVID @Home" -- will be to see "what we need to tweak along the way in order to make testing as easy as humanly possible" for families, McDaniels-Davidson said.
"We're trying to see what it'll take to get family members to take these tests so we can keep COVID out of the schools," she added. "We want schools to reopen but we want to do it safely as they return to full capacity."
In addition to the at-home tests, SDSU will conduct surveys in schools to learn more about the confidence and trust of parents and guardians.