NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Students and staff don’t have to go far to get a rapid COVID-19 test in Newport News. The kit may be as close the school office.
With new COVID-19 variants- on the uptick, many parents are looking for one of these free at-home test kits. School leaders tell News 3 they noticed a need for free at home testing kits with cases increasing in the community.
“There were families telling us they were having difficulties getting test kits. They were having difficulty getting tests kits; they were having difficulty going to a facility to have a test done,” said Nancy Carlson, Newport News Public Schools Health Services supervisor.
The division started giving out tests to parents and staff who request them last week and have already given out 400 tests since then.
“It's really to identify asymptomatic people who may be positive for COVID and not know it. We will have to have signed consent forms from anyone who participates - whether it's a student, staff member or a teacher,” Carlson said.
This new initiative is part of the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Health's screening testing program.
One parent says this will go a long way to keeping the community safe.
“I think these tests are great because kids don’t have to miss school. Other kids who have been around them, if it was too late, they don’t have to miss school,” Sajada Lewis told us.
But that's not the only reason Lewis stands with NNPS.
“For parents that don't believe in getting the COVID shot, I am one of them. I don’t want my children to get the COVID shot, so I think this is absolutely wonderful for parents like me because I can see if my child has symptoms or been around somebody, I can request a test,” Lewis said.
Access to test kits goes beyond Newport News Public Schools. Monday, the Suffolk Public Library started handing out free antigen kits, and they're already flying out the door.
“We had no idea that it would get this much response. Folks were calling today before they even came to the library to pick tests up, so we did not anticipate this much response. So, we ordered a another batch; we've ordered more,” said Suffolk Public Library Manager Tiffany Duck.
The tests at NNPS and the library are similar. Leaders say you pick up a test, then the user will be guided by a trained proctor who will help with the testing process.
“It takes 15 minutes once the test is done. The proctor comes back on the line and they go over the test results, and then the person has an electronic copy of the test results sent to them,” Carlson explained.
School leaders say the division is also looking into offering in-school testing to get started after winter break in an effort to keep everyone safe.
For anyone else seeking a free test, you can also check out the Williamsburg Regional Library and the Poquoson Library.