Everyone knew this would be an unusual back-to-school year, but just how unusual became obvious Tuesday as Durango School District 9-R employees lined up in their vehicles for COVID-19 nasal swab tests.
“I’m glad to be doing this. We’re one of the essential workers taking care of the kids, and we want everyone to be as safe as possible,” said Jonas Grushkin, a bus driver.
Grushkin said the nasal swab was not too bad. “It tickled my brain.”
9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger said as many as 800 tests were prepared for the drive-thru COVID-19 testing held in the Durango High School parking lot. All administrators, teachers and support staff members are strongly encouraged to have COVID-19 tests before the start of the school year.
A secure online portal will give employees the results of their tests, which were covered by insurance, within 36 to 48 hours. About 500 tests were administered Tuesday.
Any positive tests will be reported to San Juan Basin Public Health.
Students will be tested only if they are showing symptoms after consultation with their doctor. A test would be conducted through 9-R if the doctor recommends it.
9-R is partnering with Cedar Diagnostics, a medical laboratory service based in Durango, for the testing.
If employees wanted to be checked for antibodies, they could work with their doctor and set up testing with Cedar Diagnostics as well.
The relationship with Cedar Diagnostics to handle COVID-19 testing will extend through the school year, with the district placing special importance on rapid testing and rapid results for tests needed during the school year.
“Rapid testing and rapid results should allow us to get answers quickly so we can determine if we can keep students in school or if we need to continue self-isolation when and if that were to occur,” Snowberger said.
Danny Flynt, business development manager with Cedar Diagnostics, said setting up drive-thru testing processes like the one 9-R held Tuesday is the most efficient way to administer COVID-19 testing.
“It’s ideal for us to come on an employer’s site. It’s the quickest and fast way to administer tests when you have the cooperation of a business,” Flynt said.
A crew of six Cedar Diagnostics employees were preparing for a day of testing in the DHS parking lot, with a cooler of water, doughnuts and other snacks set up on a foldout table. Pizza was on the menu for lunch.
Elena Lozano, a 9-R bus driver, was prepared for the new normal brought on by the novel coronavirus.
“It is what it is,” she said after her nasal swab. “We need it to protect our kiddos. It’s worth it.”