SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - At-home testing kits for students returning to San Diego County public school classrooms arrived a week late.
On Tuesday, the San Diego County Office of Education said they have finally received the first allocation of tests, but school districts had to make quick changes. In the meantime, school districts are getting creative to find ways to ensure students are safe.
School districts like Lemon Grove have not required testing for students who came back to school Tuesday. However, they are providing testing sites across their seven schools. If parents would like their child to partake in the testing, they have to notify the school and opt-in.
"We think that they heard us, our attendance was down, we have been running this year at about 89%, and today our attendance was 79.2%," Superintendent of Lemon Grove School District, Erica Balakian, said.
Schools in Fallbrook provided free rapid and PCR testing to more than 650 students on Sunday. Superintendent Dr. Candace Singh, the Superintendent of FUESD, said they did this so parents would be comfortable in returning and make sure all the students were safe to do so.
"About a 14% absence rate yesterday and today, which is about double what we normally have," Superintendent Singh said. "So we know that families are either having children showing signs of illness and keeping them from school, which is a good thing for now because we want everyone to be healthy when they return."
On Tuesday, there were long lines outside Central Elementary School in National City. The National School District does not start school until next week, but they are working ahead.
"It's obvious that our community is in need," Board President Maria Betancourt-Castaneda said. "Our community got hit very hard with the pandemic, so our families are very much scared and worried that our students have to return to school and not have that opportunity to make sure they are protected."
NSD shares they are improvising with enough rapid and PCR tests for the entire district. NSD will distribute them on Wednesday and Thursday at different sites.
The County's Office of Education told ABC 10News that starting Wednesday, the kits would be distributed to districts on a first-come, first-serve basis, as they await more at-home kits. The districts will then distribute the kits to families.
"This is just such a massive undertaking," Dr. Singh said. "I am very appreciative of the opportunity that we are going to have to be able to send test kits home with our families. And that's the stage we need to get to, where we all have the opportunity for regular testing to make sure everyone is healthy and well and can come back to the classroom."
The State of California says they expect 410,616 tests to arrive at the San Diego County Office of Education to be distributed to all schools/districts. However, the County Office of Education said while they were expecting that total, they only received 196,560 kits. The SDCOE also shared they do not know when the rest of the at-home test kits will arrive.