Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry expressed confidence Monday that rapid testing being made available for students would ease parents’ minds as schools repopulate.
COVID-19 has, for the most part, been on the wane in the county, but concerns still exist about brick and mortar facilities.
Throughout the school system, more than 5,000 students are still unaccounted for as of Friday, a worrisome trend of attrition that Curry called a “concern” during a press conference.
As classrooms repopulate, rapid testing will be available to students, a move that may reassure concerned parents. It was made available for staff and teachers earlier this month.
Turnaround time for results, Curry said, is typically about two days.
The hopes, said Curry, “are that all Duval County public and private school students have access to testing when they need it.”
A student express lane at four sites around the city, located at regional senior centers, will be open from 11 AM to 7PM.
Eligibility is contingent on letters from schools and parents testifying to the need for the test by the student.
“If the schools deem a student needs to be tested, such as in the case of exposure, the tests will be available,” Curry said.
There will be no mandated tests, Curry added, and tests should be reserved for those presenting symptoms or who believe they are at risk.
The Mayor noted the daily positive test rate is just over 6%, with hospital leaders “cautiously optimistic” about the numbers “moving in the right direction.”
The Mayor’s messaging about testing and the virus comes as federal and state officials are traveling around Florida to make the case that reopening schools is the safe and right thing to do, with officials downplaying the risk to children.
An “extremely low risk to children from this illness,” was how White House coronavirus task force member Scott Atlas put it during a roundtable event in Tallahassee Monday morning.
“The children are not at any significant risk,” Atlas added.
Likewise reassuring was Scott Rivkees, the state’s Surgeon General, who said that “testing is a priority.”
“If you feel sick,” Rivkees advised, “don’t go to school.”