State provides free COVID-19 testing for educators

Teachers to be tested once every two weeks if wanted


Jacob Khabie

Math teacher Chad Austad teaches a class during hybrid learning Nov. 10. All Park staff members are now eligible for free COVID-19 testing every two weeks.

Jacob Khabie

After hearing about the new state plan to provide free COVID-19 testing to teachers, social studies teacher Mike Nordean felt satisfied with the actions the district has taken.

“I think having the ability (to get tested) is great,” Nordean said. “More access to more information is always better.”

Per guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Education, beginning Feb. 25, teachers will have the option to take a saliva COVID-19 test at school every two weeks. According to assistant principal Jessica Busse, the administration wants to make testing easy and accessible for staff members.

“We’re encouraging staff to get tested as often as they want to, and encouraging them to get tested with a super easy process,” Busse said.

Junior Rosie Montero-Ward said that the new program is a great way to ensure staff members’ health and safety given Park’s return to hybrid learning starting Feb. 22.

“That’s probably one of the best ways to protect teachers, given that we are going back (to hybrid),” Montero-Ward said.

Nordean said his biggest question in response to the program is how quickly test results will come back after staff gets tested.

“I’ll be curious as to the timeliness of the results,” Nordean said. “I have not heard what the anticipated timeline of results will be.”

According to sophomore Sophia Earle, she’s unsure about what additional guidelines can be put in place due to the novelty of COVID-19.

“Since this virus is so new, we don’t really know what else can be done to prevent it or what else can be put in place,” Earle said.

According to Nordean, now his biggest worry is the cleanliness of frequently touched surfaces, and whether or not those surfaces will become breeding grounds for virus particles.

“One concern would be daily cleaning of our spaces,” Nordean said. “Just door handles alone, light switches, things that we touch frequently — could those be a vector?”

Junior Noah Tomback said he believes the new testing program is a move in the right direction, and will help keep staff and students safe.

“(It) keeps teachers safe and makes sure that they’re in a position where they keep teaching,” Tomback said. “I don’t see much downside to that.”