Watervliet School District prepares for weekly COVID testing of students and staff

WATERVLIET – Starting next week, all athletes, other students with permission, and interested vaccinated staff will be tested weekly for COVID using pool saliva testing.

The boxes of test kits came in recently. Watervliet also bought some scanners for the tests.

This school district starts surveillance testing next week for any interested vaccinated staff, all athletes and other students who have consent from their parents.

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District officials are hoping to do 20% of the school community every week, which is about 300 people.

"We want to protect, the goal is always to protect the students, the teachers and the staff," said Dr. Lori Caplan, Watervliet School superintendent. "So the more we can test, the better idea we’ll have that students and staff are safe."

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"It’s a very simple, quick test," said elementary school nurse Sue Vogel. "It’s described to us as brushing your teeth. They’re going to take a Q-tip, and it’s going to go on each side between the cheek and the gum ten times, do the other side ten times, and then a quick swish underneath the tongue, and that’s it. Nothing invasive, nothing up the nose."

Many children aren’t old enough to get the vaccine yet.

This is pool saliva testing. Each group of samples is tested, and if anything comes back positive, they test samples in the pod individually.

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In Watervliet, the separate mandated weekly testing of the small number of unvaccinated teachers and staff began Monday.

The superintendent says every teacher in the elementary school is vaccinated.

"The teachers have done a really good job about being vigilant and conscientious about being vaccinated, seeing as how this profession is about keeping children safe all the time," Caplan saida.