TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Aiming to keep students and teachers safe this school year, Arizona State University and the state health department are providing free COVID-19 resources for two K-12 school districts in Tucson.
“We are offering 14 school districts across Arizona access to screening testing so that’s randomized testing for asymptomatic individuals for at least 20% of their faculty and staff on a weekly basis,” said Michelle Villegas-Gold.
Villegas-Gold is ASU’s Manager of Health and Clinical Research. She said staff at Tucson Unified School District and Amphi Public Schools will receive free testing starting this month.
“Some of the school districts we chose because they were the largest in the state and serve the largest number of students, she added.”
ASU’s Vice President for Research Neal Woodbury said this effort will provide district leaders real-time data on asymptomatic cases and help with school’s decision-making.
“We’re not going to tell them whether they should stay open or closed depending on the results. Part of this since it’s focused on staff, it’s to increase the comfort level of staff in terms of understanding what’s happening in their school district whether other people are getting sick or what not,” Woodbury said.
As part of the partnership, teachers will also receive training from the university.
“Any of the teachers in the participating districts can access instructional and curricular support and so learning how to thrive as a digital teacher, best practices for online instruction, supporting students social and emotional learning, flipped as classrooms, and virtual and hybrid learning environments,” Villegas-Gold said.
ASU aims to expand this program to other school districts and at some point, test students and parents as well.
The testing program will also give priority registration for teachers and staff at existing ASU and state public testing sites that’ll expand their hours to take care of educators. Eight new sites are expected to open in underserved areas across the state including Tucson.