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FCPS to end weekly and drive-thru COVID-19 testing next week

A rapid COVID-19 at-home testing kit (via Jernej Furman/Flickr)

Fairfax County Public Schools is winding down its COVID-19 testing services for students and staff.

The school system announced in a newsletter last night (Wednesday) that, next Friday (April 22), it will discontinue the optional weekly screening testing and diagnostic drive-thru testing sites introduced last year as part of its efforts to support in-person learning during the pandemic.

FCPS cited Fairfax County’s month-long “low” community level classification and over 70% vaccination rate to explain the decision, though cases have recently started to tick back up after more than two months of declines.

The screening testing has been available at all schools since early November. It’s intended to identify COVID-19 cases among students and staff who are asymptomatic and haven’t experienced a known or reported exposure to the coronavirus.

FCPS launched a drive-thru diagnostic testing site at the Gatehouse Administration Center in Merrifield on Dec. 30, right as the omicron variant was surging and students were preparing to return from winter break.

The diagnostic testing is for people who are experiencing Covid symptoms or came into close contact with someone who has tested positive. FCPS currently has a second drive-thru testing site at the Sideburn Center outside McLean High School.

For students who need a COVID-19 test, Fairfax County still has options through the county and state health departments as well as pharmacies, private health care providers, and other locations in the community.

FCPS says students with symptoms can also get an at-home test kit from their school health room, and the test-to-stay program being piloted with the Virginia Department of Health will continue for all cases at seven schools and at all schools in the event of an outbreak.

“While we are encouraged by the continued decline in COVID-19 cases in our community, we are also committed to keeping our schools safe for all to learn and work in person,” FCPS said. “Please continue to do your part to maintain a healthy learning environment by using layered prevention strategies including hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, monitoring for illness, and staying home when sick.”

There have been 6,133 COVID-19 cases reported among FCPS students, staff, and visitors this year, but numbers have dropped drastically over the past few months, from 3,586 cases in January to 81 cases so far in April.

Photo via Jernej Furman/Flickr

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