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School Desk Blog: Ukiah Unified pulling together for COVID-19 testing

Once again, Ukiah Unified employees have come together to help in the efforts to bring students back to campus safely.  In January, the California Department of Public Health published the “COVID-19 & Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework,” which gave school districts direction on how to safely reopen schools for in-person instruction.  Included in the framework was a direction to have testing available to students and staff.  With support from the Mendocino County Office of Education and Mendocino County Public Health, Ukiah Unified was among the first districts in California to successfully put into action a plan to administer free COVID-19 tests to UUSD students and staff. 

COVID-19 testing has increased each week at Ukiah Unified since it began the week of February 16th. Training a group of employees in administering the testing was one of the first steps in the UUSD testing plan. This initial training involved a virtual meeting with representatives from the California Department of Public Health and hands-on experience administering the test.  What is especially impressive is the diverse group of staff members who have been trained and are part of the UUSD COVID Testing Team.  In addition to health assistants, the team includes food service employees, clerical staff, certificated staff, administrators, and even UUSD Superintendent Deb Kubin. In total, UUSD has over 60 employees trained to administer the COVID-19 test.  

Ukiah Unified is utilizing Abbott Laboratories’ BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Cards for the testing.  These rapid antigen tests provide results within 15 minutes.  Samples are collected via nasal swabs done by participating staff members and students themselves (even the Transitional Kindergarten students can do this on their own with a little bit of training!), under the guidance of trained District staff.  Test results are reported to participants via text and email, and to the California Department of Public Health and Mendocino County Public Health nightly.  

Students and staff are not all required to test, but it is highly recommended.  Those participating in a UUSD sports team that practices and competes outside are required to test once a week.  Those participating in indoor sports are required to test once a day on days they practice or compete.  

Ukiah Unified is grateful to the UUSD COVID Testing Team members for their willingness to administer COVID-19 tests to students and help in this significant safety measure and to all the students and staff who are participating in testing.  

For more information on the UUSD COVID Testing plan and how to register your child, visit https://www.uusd.net/apps/news/article/1402881.  Please visit https://sites.google.com/uusd.net/uusdcovidresponse/home to learn more about our phased reopening to a hybrid model, health protocols, mitigation, testing, and more. If you need assistance, please reach out to your child’s school or contact me at dshald@uusd.net or 707.472.5005.