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State of Missouri halts free COVID-19 tests for schools

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 4:50 AM CST
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CANTON, Mo. (WGEM) - The State of Missouri has put on hold a program that provides free COVID-19 tests to schools, citing supply chain issues. That has schools concerned.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services program provided quick testing for schools, who utilized this significantly.

Canton R-5 Superintendent Jesse Uhlmeyer says the tests were convenient and allowed the district to test at least 40 to 60 students a week. They were able to get the results quickly which allowed them to keep both faculty and students in schools.

“The main shift for us has been locally, that we now only test symptomatic individuals and we actually only test faculty and staff members. Unless we have a parent who just cannot find another area to test in. Or have transpiration to a medical provider,” Uhlmeyer said.

Uhlmeyer says parents might have to travel to providers in Quincy or Hannibal if the local ones don’t have any, which can take a lot of time out of the day for parents and students.

Uhlmeyer says they are critically low on tests. They have been looking to find places to order tests from, but their orders have either been delayed, or only a fraction of what was ordered.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services did recommend another vendor, but they offered saliva tests. Unlike the nasal tests, saliva tests take 48 hours to get results and they would have to provide five test samples a day.

The Missouri government has no idea when the hold on program for schools will be lifted. For now, the schools just have to wait until the supply chain gets better. Uhlmeyer says that in the meantime, they are looking to find a new supply so they can ensure, that they don’t have to close the schools.

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