PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Before the school year began, Portland Public School officials announced they were partnering with OHA, the Oregon Department of Education and OHSU for an optional take-home COVID screening test to every student who wants one.
There are more than 50,000 students at PPS and officials said they would be able to keep up with demand.
“We are ramped up at OHSU to be running tests 7 days a week with a pretty high volume capacity of 8000 to 10,000 tests a day,” Dr. Donna Hansel said on September 1.
Hansel, the lead pathologist for OHSU, said the program would roll out with a phased approach. She also said she expects just 10% of families will opt into the program.
Now, two weeks into the school year, only Faubion School in Northeast Portland is the only one involved in this screening option. But that’s not for lack of interest.
OHSU hasn’t offered PPS the capability to run this testing in more than just the one school yet, it was announced at Wednesday’s PPS Board of Education meeting.
“It’s really dependent on equipment that’s being delivered to OHSU and the ability for them to ramp up the tests,” said Dr. Shawn Bird, the Deputy Superintendent of Instruction & School Communities for PPS. “We don’t have any other programs other than the symptomatic tests.”
Dr. Bird told KOIN 6 News he anticipated it will be about 6 weeks until the program is expanded.
However, after increased communication between the district and the hospital — OHSU officials determined overnight they will fast-track the rollout and add more schools much sooner.
Starting with K-5 schools, all PPS families will receive a consent form to opt-in to this optional, once-a-week, at-home COVID-19 screening beginning next week. The district says tests will be given out shortly afterward.
As of Friday at midnight, the PPS dashboard reports that 51 kids and five staff members are currently in isolation.