SRVUSD rolls out new COVID-19 testing resources and centers


Lauren Chen

Since the beginning of the semester, San Ramon Valley Unified School District has been rolling out new methods to make antigen and PCR testing available for students, families, and employees.

Lauren Chen and Anaisha Das

Throughout January, San Ramon Valley Unified School District has implemented new COVID-19 testing centers and other resources to protect the health of students and staff.

Local and state health partners did not mandate COVID-19 testing for students before they returned from winter break. Ilana Israel Samuels, the SRVUSD Director of Communications and Community Relations, explained the district’s alternatives to protect students’ health.

Testing was not required by the county or the state in order for students to return to school,” she said.
“However, it was highly recommended, so that’s why we put together a distribution plan so quickly to get the home test kits out to students and increased our testing capacity and appointments as well.”

By providing various testing options, many students were able to get tested before the return from winter break. SRVUSD’s distribution of free, state-provided home test kits was extremely popular, with approximately 31,000 test kits given out on Jan. 6 and Jan. 7 at four locations.

Those who were unable to receive an at-home test kit were able to schedule an appointment for rapid antigen testing at Iron Horse Middle School on Jan. 10 during a “students only” test day. Even with reserved time slots, lines to enter the testing center lasted from 45 minutes to one hour due to a shortage of test administrators, with frustrated families reporting large crowds and a lack of social distancing while waiting in line.

“For some people, [waiting in line] is fine,” Ms. Samuels explained, “And for other people that could be a real hardship. We make sure that we’re using every piece of information that we’ve received to improve for the next time.”

The district’s goal is to make COVID-19 testing as efficient and accessible as possible. It has continued to work with its testing provider, AgileForce, to implement new resources.

On Tuesday, Jan. 25, SRVUSD introduced antigen testing at every secondary school location. Dougherty Valley High School has testing available by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On-site appointments are created by a student’s caregiver through Global Virus Pass, whose system will also display test results within 24 hours.

Dougherty Valley Principal Evan Powell stated that the on-site testing will prioritize athletes, due to new CA Department of Health measures mandating students who play indoor sports to test weekly regardless of vaccination status. 

Although SRVUSD teachers and certified staff members do not have the same COVID-19 resources as students, the district recently implemented staff-only testing hours between 7-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. at the Education Center (699 Old Orchard Drive, Danville). Students can also make appointments at separate times at the Education Center through Global Virus Pass. This is also the only district location that offers PCR testing

Though neither families nor school districts are charged for administering COVID-19 testing due to state mandates, Ms. Samuels explained that supply rations may still affect the availability of these resources. In a newsletter from Jan. 21, the district asked caregivers not to pre-schedule appointments “just in case” in order to give priority to students who know they have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms.

In conjunction with the new testing methods, Mr. Powell stated that the school had received enough N95 masks from the state to provide ten masks per student. Distribution of these masks is set for the first week of February. The district is also increasing its pool of certified non-teaching staff to around 220 employees that can substitute as needed.

Since the beginning of the school year on Aug. 9, 2021, Dougherty Valley has reported 118 cumulative total cases out of 3607 students and staff, equal to about 3.27%. For many, this is reassuring news. However, as the semester progresses, SRVUSD plans to continue with this comprehensive approach to COVID-19 safety while continuously monitoring successes and areas for improvement.

“We are pretty lucky to be at Dougherty Valley and in San Ramon Valley Unified [School District] with the system and support we have,” Mr. Powell said. “I think we’re in a really good spot, given the conditions of our state and our country with the surrounding COVID-19. We should be thankful for that and continue to support ourselves and everyone around us.”