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'I just think this virus is rampant' | Houston ISD launches on-campus COVID testing

More than 45,000 HISD students were absent on the first day back from winter break.

HOUSTON, Texas — Houston ISD began offering on-campus testing Thursday, something that will eventually be available on 85% of campuses.

It’s meant to help track positive cases in order to keep schools as safe as possible.

"We’re launching HISD’s on-campus COVID 19 testing for both students and staff,” said Superintendent Millard House II.

The testing will offered on a weekly and bi-weekly basis throughout the district depending on the campus and trends in surrounding communities.

"And we believe we can manage our situations school by school,” said House.

Heights High School biology teacher Sophia Castillo and HSPVA senior Seva Raman are among those currently quarantined from their respective schools.

“I just think this virus is rampant," said Castillo. "That's what it’s doing.”

“I may stay home six or seven days just to make sure because I don’t want it to spread around my school,” said Raman.

They were tested at off-campus sites but believe an at-school option makes it a lot more convenient to identify cases.

“I ended up waiting 2 ½ hours in the line to get tested,” said Raman.

"It’s really important for them to put testing on campuses,” said Castillo.

Click here to read more on HISD's COVID-19 protocols.

On Monday, the first day back from winter break, about 45,000 HISD students and more than 300 teacher were at home. 

Not all of their absences were necessarily COVID-related. However, the superintendent blames it for many if not most of them.

"We didn’t know exactly what the impact would be in reference to absences," said House.  "But we’re living it, learning it and doing the best we can with it.”

Those absentee numbers have significantly decreased over the last couple of days.

Here's some data provided by the district:

Student absences:

1/3/22: 45,515 absences (75.58% attendance rate)

1/4/22: 26,259 absences (85.31% attendance rate)

Teacher absences:

1/3/22: 301

1/4/22: 242

1/5/22: 122

Total HISD Employee Absences (Includes teachers and all other employees):

1/3/22: 758

1/4/22: 527

1/5/22: 321

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