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San Diego Unified students start winter break with home COVID test kits

take home covid test kits.jpg
Carlos Castillo / KPBS
Photo of the iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Tests were provided by the California Department of Public Health to students, Dec. 17, 2021

San Diego Unified School District students are enjoying the start of winter break. Classes ended Friday for a fall semester that faced more COVID concerns and a continued search for a permanent superintendent.

As a precaution, students were sent home with two COVID-19 rapid tests to self-test prior to returning to campus in January after the holidays. The iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Tests were provided by the California Department of Public Health and were distributed to more than 98,000 students in the district.

Susan Barndollar is the Executive Director of Nursing and Wellness for the district.

"The more people can test, the better. Knowledge is power. The State has committed to get as many at-home tests as possible,” she said.

There are instructions and a helpline to get the job done with one test to be taken on New Year’s Eve and a second test to be done January 3rd, the first day back.

Those students who test positive in either test should stay home and contact their doctor and school right away, and they should follow any further instructions from the district before returning to campus.

"We want our students and their families to take common-sense precautions to protect themselves so we can all return to a safe learning environment after the winter break," said Barndollar. "``That includes not only using these at-home test kits, but also practicing good hygiene habits."

Speaking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Rolando Park Elementary, Friday, newly appointed School Board President Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne also encouraged families to have every member fully vaccinated.

“If it comes down to a high rate of COVID in January the whole society will be cut down, again,” Whitehurst-Payne said.

San Diego Unified students start winter break with home COVID test kits

She continued by reaffirming the district’s position to in-person learning.

“We don’t want another shutdown for our children. We want them in school where they learn best.”

Ten year old Maximiliano Perez Garcia is a 5th grader at Rolando Park Elementary. He told KPBS News he welcomes the at-home test kits.

“Oh, I’m excited about that because I want to stay safe and I want my family to stay safe, too,” he said.