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State COVID kit delivery falls short for many San Diego school districts

Some San Diego County school districts and charter schools received relief today in their desperate search for COVID-19 home test kits. Millions of promised COVID-19 test kits didn’t show up. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez tells us what did happen today at a first come, first served distribution site.

Several San Diego County school districts and charter schools received relief Wednesday in their desperate search for COVID-19 home test kits

The State Department of Public Health delivered 193,000 at-home antigen rapid test kits to the County Office of Education late Tuesday. Based on Gov. Newsom’s December promise to provide 6-million rapid tests to public schools across the state, the county had requested 500,000 tests to cover every public school student.

The much smaller supply forced a distribution Wednesday of first-come, first-served to districts quick enough to respond to the email alert sent out.

“The response was overwhelming,” COE spokesperson Music Watson said. “We’ve got 42 school districts and 130 or so charter schools. So it’s a lot of people competing for a limited scarce number of test kits.”

Darnall Charter School in Southeast San Diego is one of the schools that were able to get the kits. The school has 512 students in kindergarten through 8th grade. The charter school received six boxes, containing just enough to send all the students home with test kits.

The anxiety level is a little bit up especially right now with the surge that’s going on," Hector Corona, Darnell's director of student services, said. " As best as we can, we are maintaining the safety protocols and we’re there to serve our students.”

Chula Vista Elementary School District was another fortunate recipient of some of the first distributed supplies. Other recipients included the Poway Unified School District, Escondido Union, Jamul, Dulzura schools and the Coronado Unified School District.

M.G. Perez / KPBS
Adrian Ruvalcaba and David Castellon, San Diego County Office of Education maintenance operations workers, sort the supply of COVID-19 rapid tests, Jan. 5, 2022

San Diego Unified received its supply of 98,000 test kits just before winter break last month. The early delivery allowed students to test themselves over the holidays and before returning to classes in person on Monday.

All the districts and charters that did not get supplied are now on a waiting list for the next shipment. It is unknown when that shipment will come from the state or how many home tests will be included.