Wichita Public Schools see rise in need for COVID-19 rapid testing

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Wichita Public Schools are busy dealing with COVID-19 again this school year.

Lawmakers are limiting the amount of remote learning to 40 hours.

Schools are now leaning heavily on testing students for the virus to try and keep things under control, but, that takes time, even with rapid testing.

Students in USD 259 have two options if exposed to COVID-19; stay home and miss school, or be tested before school every morning before entering the classroom for eight days.

A Wichita mom says her student was exposed in just the first week of school.

She says the testing process was not initially an issue, but that the demand for rapid testing has snowballed.

“Covid is running rampant at our schools. It’s a much bigger problem than what we’ve been made aware,” said Megan Bower, whose daughter goes to school in USD 259.

For Megan Bower’s daughter, Zoe, it was a matter of days until she was exposed.

“I was extremely concerned,” said Megan Bower. “I thought maybe we would make it a little bit farther from the first week of school before it happened.”

Since Zoe wants to continue to go to school, she has to get rapid tested. Her mother says it is anything but that.

“I dropped her off at 7:40 a.m.,” said Megan Bower. “There were so many kids that had to be tested that it took her until 10:30 a.m. for testing to be completed in order to return to school, and that was third period.”

Megan Bower says by that time there were more than 300 students in line.

“I don’t have those numbers,” said Division Director, Safety and Environmental Services for USD 259 Terri Moses. “I know we have at least one school that had more than a hundred.”

Wichita Public Schools say nine of their buildings are seeing a big demand for tests.

“We don’t want to rush through things. We want to make sure the test is conducted appropriately,” said Moses. “So we’re not trying to do things fast, or trying to do things efficiently, and that does take time.”

Lawmakers took away the option of remote learning this year. Megan Bower says this leaves her and her daughter in a pickle.

“Do I send my daughter to school where I know that Covid is running rampant and expose ourselves? Or do I take her home and she doesn’t get to learn at all and that’s not what she wants.”

Megan Bower says she knows the school is doing all it can, but she is hopeful for a better solution.

The district says it is working to add more staff to schools that are seeing high exposure rates.

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