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Coronavirus testing backlog could impact teachers, students

Higher demand for testing caused backlog

ROANOKE, Va. – The current coronavirus testing backlog could have an impact on students and teachers as schools reopen.

Students and teachers will not be given priority for testing, according to Roanoke-Alleghany Health District Director Dr. Molly O’Dell.

“The testing priorities have not changed. Priorities are still given to the same individuals,” said O’Dell. “Those are health care workers, vulnerable population groups, congregate living facilities, contacts of cases -- particularly symptomatic cases.”

She said as of Tuesday getting test results could take up to 14 days.

Until recently, the turnaround time was down to two or three days.

“If someone is waiting for their test result to find out if they are, in fact, a confirmed case it is going to impact how long a child will have to be learning remotely versus in class if they were in face-to-face instruction to begin with,” O’Dell said.

More people wanting to get tested and more employers requiring testing are two big reasons for the backlog.

As for the school year, O’Dell is cautiously optimistic.

The school year had begun for some districts in southwest Virginia as of Tuesday.

O’Dell has been working with superintendents in the health district to help them develop their reopening plans.

“We just have to see how those plans are going to work and make adjustments if we see cases,” said O’Dell.

Informational flyers, like the ones the Virginia Department of Health distributes when other communicable diseases like pertussis arise, are ready to be distributed if there’s a coronavirus case in a school.