Birmingham City Schools extends voluntary COVID-19 testing program

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 8:25 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Students and employees in Birmingham City Schools will have access to free, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing again this school year thanks to a partnership with UAB’s School of Public Health.

School leaders said with COVID still circulating in our community, they wanted to continue this program this year and reward students for participating.

Birmingham City Schools was one of only a handful school districts in our area to offer UAB’s free asymptomatic COVID-19 testing last year.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Sullivan said the program was instrumental in keeping schools open.

“People are still able to catch COVID while they are vaccinated or even boosted. So, we still want to identify those asymptomatic cases so we can keep schools moving forward and we can try to mitigate the spread of this virus even further,” Dr. Sullivan explained.

This year, the program will offer new services to keep students and their families interested in COVID testing.

“Students who participate will get a $15 gift card per test. So, for student who are participating every month, that’s four weeks, so that’s $60 a month. So, that’s a nice little change for the student as an incentive to take the testing and it supports the families as well,” Dr. Sullivan said.

Participating schools will also receive HEPA air purifiers, rapid over-the-counter test kits, and money to hire on-site testing liaisons.

Schools will also get money to train school nurses to administer rapid tests.

“We’re moving past COVID, but I think our thought is having these dollars and really trying to be the best stewards that we can with them and making sure that we’re thinking longer-term. Having those HEPA filters in place just gives an added layer of protection, again really against many, many of the bugs and viruses that are around our children all the time,” said Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Organization at UAB, Dr. Martha Wingate.

Dr. Wingate said these services will help schools stay healthy and keep students in the classroom.

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