GLEN MILLS, Pa. (CBS) — Last week, the Biden administration promised 10 million COVID-19 tests to schools every month. But one local superintendent warns it’s not that simple.
In Garnet Valley, school leaders worry the new federal effort may be fixing something that isn’t broken.READ MORE: Dave McCormick Sues Over Counting Mail Ballots In Pennsylvania Republican Senate Race
“It’s really given us an advantage in keeping schools open,” Garney Valley School District Superintendent Dr. Marc Bertrando said.
Garnet Valley’s superintendent says he has been able to keep a majority of the district’s more than 5,000 students learning in-person — especially in the days immediately after winter break as new cases surged — thanks to daily on-site testing.
“We kept over 80 students out of our schools who tested positive on that morning,” Bertrando said.
Test-to-stay programs are meant to keep students who have been exposed to a COVID-positive person but don’t show symptoms and test negative in-class.
“You have to remember, in Delaware County, we don’t have a local health department so we are our health department,” Bertrando said.
But now, Bertrando worries his testing supplies — currently provided through a partnership with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — may be disrupted as the state health department steps in to manage inventory under the Biden administration’s initiative to provide 10 monthly tests to schools nationwide.READ MORE: Decomposed Body Of Dog Found In Trash Bag On Train Tracks In Kensington, Philadelphia Police Say
“How that is going to impact our testing programs, quite frankly, I don’t know. We just got that information today,” Bertrando said.
He also warns tests alone aren’t enough and that it takes people to oversee these efforts on the ground.
Garnet Valley hired five temporary nurses.
“You need runners to go back and forth to cars, you need folks to watch the tests and input the data so it is labor-intensive,” Bertrando said.
Labor that may be hard to find, especially in districts already facing staffing shortages.
“This exposes what I think most realize what is going on in our schools for a long time and this has just quickened the pace of letting some of the other people know the inequities that exist between public school districts,” Bertrando said.
Garnet Valley leaders are hoping to get more information on how the state supply of tests will be ordered and delivered in the coming days.MORE NEWS: Heated Debate Over Who & What Should Be Allowed On Delaware River Splashes Into Public View
For now, the program will continue to run in partnership with CHOP, including on-site district testing Tuesday starting at 7:30 a.m.