Staff at eight Front Range school districts now have access to free COVID-19 testing.
A Colorado investment organization has opened five testing sites. Employees from Aurora Public Schools, Cherry Creek School District, Denver Public Schools, Englewood Schools, Mapleton Public Schools, Sheridan School District 2, Westminster Public Schools and 27J Schools in Brighton can get start getting tested this week at COVIDCheck Colorado sites.
"I think this partnership with COVIDCheck is incredibly important because it will give us baseline data around the overall health of our community," said Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn. "[It's] going to help us have that data to make good decisions."
Staff members can schedule a COVID-19 diagnostic test every two weeks, according to Gary Community Investments officials. There is no set end date for this service.
"What we know from best practices and research around the world is that one of the keys to beating this virus and to making sure we can engage in in-person activities is a high volume of testing and rapid results," Munn said. "We've had about 500 people go through this already in just a day."
The five testing locations are Hinkley High School in Aurora, Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, North High School in Denver, All-City Stadium near South High School in Denver, and Riverdale Ridge High School in Thornton.
"We think one of the most important parts of teacher safety is to make sure people get timely results back," Gary CEO Mike Johnston said. "We've been incredibly successful with that in the early stages. I think that helps us get the immediate information people need to make sure they are safe to go back to school or need to stay home."
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Most results come back within 48 to 72 hours, according to Johnston. He said that turnaround will help districts mitigate the spread of the virus. Decisions about moving online or back into the classroom are up to each individual district.
Johnston said employees can sign up for a testing slot online and be done with the swab in around three minutes.
"It gives me a lot of peace of mind," said Cole Palmer, a teacher at Aurora West College Preparatory School. "It makes my job easier because, as a teacher, I won't have to worry about the safety of my students and their families. I can focus more on all the instruction we are going to have to focus on when we get back."