Sioux City Schools Look to Offer Free, Rapid COVID Tests


The Sioux City Community School District could be the first Iowa school district to offer rapid COVID-19 testing in its buildings.

The only hindrance is approval to use federal emergency funding to buy those tests, according to District Communications Director Leslie Heying

Heying said part of the discussion at Monday’s school board meeting will be about rapid tests and asking the board to acknowledge the district’s plan to use $40,000 of the funding to acquire them. The plan has already been approved by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The idea is part of the district’s broader COVID mitigation strategy.

Until board approval is in place, the district can’t move forward with the plan, and schools are not currently offering rapid testing.

If approved, Sioux City Schools will offer rapid COVID-19 testing for students who show symptoms.

Rapid testing detects high viral loads which will identify whether a person is likely to be infectious. The Delta variant, which is dominant in Iowa and the rest of the country, is more contagious than previous versions, so early detection is important.

Parents and guardians must consent to the child receiving the test in writing ahead of time and over the phone at the time the child needs one.

If a child shows COVID symptoms like coughing or a fever while at school, they will be sent with a mask to a “caring room” separate from the nurse’s office and parents or guardians will be contacted. If parents give permission for the test, the results should be ready in about half an hour.

“Caring rooms” are staffed by a school nurse or certified nursing assistant in personal protective equipment. Children’s identities will be kept confidential.

Whether the parents consent to the test—and whether the child tests positivethe school will ask parents to pick them up because COVID symptoms are often similar to symptoms of other diseases.

If a child is confirmed to be positive for COVID, they won’t be allowed to return to school until 10 days have passed since symptoms started, the child has gone 24 hours without a fever, and other COVID symptoms are improving.


by Nikoel Hytrek

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