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Minot Public Schools participate in rapid testing pilot for COVID-19

Teachers and staff from the Minot Public Schools are participating in rapid testing for the COVID-19 project.

Superintendent Mark Vollmer told school board members on Thursday that about 130 teachers and staff have taken part in a pilot project offered at the Minot State University Dome and have been tested once per week.

The school board meeting was held virtually.

Vollmer said he was tested himself and got his results back in about 15 minutes. The test requires a nasal swab and is more accurate for people who have symptoms of the virus than those who are asymptomatic.

The school district will also be participating in a second pilot project using the rapid tests beginning next week at Minot High School-Magic City Campus, Jim Hill Middle School, and Perkett Elementary. Teachers and staff will be able to administer the test themselves, swabbing each nostril five times, then adding the swab to a container with the required solution, and then get their results within about five minutes. Vollmer said teachers and staff will not be required to utilize the testing. Vollmer said he does not know if teachers and staff from other schools in the district will be able to take part in the rapid testing at Magic City Campus, Jim Hill or Perkett but he will check on the details. Eventually they hope to expand the pilot project to all of the schools in the district and to include students in the testing.

Changes in CDC and Health Department guidelines will also mean that people may be able to end quarantine after 10 days instead of 14 or after 7 days if they choose to get a PCR test for the virus on the fifth day after exposure and get a negative test. The district is waiting for guidance from the health department on how to implement the new rules for quarantine.

Vollmer said the numbers of teachers, students and staff who have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it and are required to be in isolation or quarantine seem to be going down. That means that substitute teachers seem to be more available than they were earlier this fall. Cases of COVID-19 seem to be spread more in a home setting than in the school setting.

For now classes continue to be held face-to-face with precautions such as masks required. The buildings are not open to outside groups.

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