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HISD and Houston Health starting free COVID tests on select campuses

Schools picked for the program will be based on the community's COVID rates.

HOUSTON — Starting later this school year, Houston ISD and the city’s health department will provide free COVID-19 tests to students and staff. 

HISD Superintendent Millard House II says the program will allow schools to stay open and keep the virus out of the classroom. 

“First, we mandated masks in our schools, and now the City of Houston is providing testing that can catch COVID-19 before it spreads through our schools. This partnership with the City of Houston will save lives,” the superintendent said.

HISD and Houston Health will partner with Fulgent Genetics to provide PCR COVID tests. Medical professionals will use a nose swab to go less than an inch into the nose. They’ll circle the swab three times around each nostril, then send them to a lab for testing. Students' results should come back within the next day.

The testing program will only be offered at select campuses. They’re prioritizing communities with high COVID infection rates and low vaccination rates. 

Parents will have to sign a consent form for their children to get tested. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is urging parents to sign up their children, especially those under 12 who are not able to get vaccinated.

“We know students learn best in the classroom and keeping schools open for safe in-person learning is a priority,” says Mayor Turner. “Our goal is to keep campus staff, students, and families healthy while preventing a need to shut down schools because of a COVID-19 outbreak.”

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