‘I want to protect myself’: Concerned parents, staff grab COVID tests at RPS giveaway as omicron cases rise

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — Richmond Public Schools partnered with the Virginia Department of Health to give out 8,000 at-home rapid COVID-19 tests to students and staff Sunday afternoon.

The district said it’s a part of a series of enhanced mitigation efforts to combat the omicron variant as schools reopen for in-person learning on Monday, January 3.

A car line wrapped around Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School Sunday afternoon, with parents and staff members pulling up to get a CareStart antigen at-home test. The school was one of four at which RPS planned to give out tests Sunday.

RPS spokesperson Sarah Abubaker said the district hopes mitigation efforts like the testing giveaway will help to keep schools open this year.

RPS plans to hand out thousands of KN95 masks and also hold vaccination opportunities this year as well.

Mother of three and Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle employee Lolita Brown-Wilson was at the school Sunday, picking up masks and tests before school starts back Monday.

“The COVID cases are, you know, on a rise. And I want to protect myself and I want to protect, you know, the students as well,” she said. “Everybody hasn’t been vaccinated. And with me having health issues as well, that kind of does concern me.”

Abubaker said RPS ran out of tests around 2 p.m. Sunday at Broad Rock Elementary.

For RPS staff members who are unvaccinated, the district will start testing them every week for COVID-19 in the near future.

“We have the resources available to us to help our kids stay safe from COVID-19 while in the classroom,” explains Dr. Danny Avula, Director of Richmond and Henrico Health Districts. “Testing, alongside vaccination and staying home when you’re sick, can help keep transmission in schools low.”

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