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New COVID-19 Testing Sites Open For Teachers, School Personnel

A public health nurse is waiting for teachers and school personnel to arrive at the COVID-19 testing site in Old Town, San Diego, Oct. 1, 2020.
Jacob Aere
A public health nurse is waiting for teachers and school personnel to arrive at the COVID-19 testing site in Old Town, San Diego, Oct. 1, 2020.

San Diego County on Thursday announced four new COVID-19 testing sites specifically for teachers and school personnel.

The walk-in testing sites are located in San Diego, Chula Vista, Del Mar and El Cajon. The new locations were set up in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education, and are not intended for the general public.

New COVID-19 Testing Sites Open For Teachers, School Personnel
Listen to this story by Jacob Aere.

All school staff who interact with children must be tested every two months, according to state guidelines, said Paul Gothold, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools.

“As you start to reopen schools, the metric that they have determined is all school employees need to get tested,” He said. “Fifty percent of them each month, 100% of them every two months. That's the metric that'd been determined by state health and that’s what we are accommodating based on these structures.”

The additional testing centers come as county schools plan to return to in-person learning in the near future.

“We have a task force here at the County Office of Education with County Health that's actually determining start dates and really working on logistics to make sure we have a seamless and fluid system,” Gothold said.

RELATED: Schools Remain Cautious Even As San Diego Moves Off State’s COVID-19 Monitoring List

San Diego is currently in the state’s red tier for COVID-19 infection rates. If a school opens before any upward change in the county’s COVID-19 infection rate, it will not be required school close.

The San Diego and Chula Vista sites opened their doors Thursday, while the other two sites will open in the coming days.

The first person to get a COVID-19 test at the San Diego location was Jerome Gurule, a building service supervisor. He said getting testing will help schools throughout the county reopen safely.

“Everybody should before they come back to school to work," he said. "I've been wanting to do this before just to get it done so I don't give it to other people.”

The testing requirement applies to roughly 80,000 employees in the county. He said testing them all regularly will require extensive planning, Gothold said.

“Assuming every school is open in the county, that means 40,000 employees would have to be tested each month," he said. "That's an extraordinary number.”

Additionally, San Diego County Fire will work with school districts in rural communities to test school personnel.

While these sites are not open to the general public, more COVID-19 sites for everyone are on the way. A dozen more testing sites are expected to open in the next two weeks.

During that same timeframe, the number of weekly tests in San Diego County will nearly double to about 30,000, said Ryan Clabo, the head of San Diego county’s T3 Testing Team. Each of the new testing centers for teachers and school personnel is equipped to handle 500 to 600 tests per day, he said.

The county is transitioning the majority of its COVID-19 testing sites to not require an appointment. To find a site near you, visit 211sandiego.org or call 2-1-1.

New COVID-19 testing sites have opened just for teachers and school staff. All school staff who interact with children must be tested every two months. The County Office of Education says that means 40,000 tests per month. Also, after a positive coronavirus test within the San Diego City Council chambers - questions swirl over what to do next And, a preview of KPBS’ Trigger Tracker, where we examine the 13 data points used to track the coronavirus in San Diego.