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Fairbanks Borough School District opens COVID-19 testing sites for students and staff

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has opened two new COVID testing sites which...
The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has opened two new COVID testing sites which will be staffed by Beacon Occupational Health and Safety.(ktvf)
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 4:14 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks North Star School District is opening new COVID-19 testing sites for students and staff.

According to Karen Melin, Interim Superintendent for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, the district had been operating a COVID testing site, but now plans to expand.

“It has been clear that testing is one of our really strong mitigation tools available to us,” Melin explained. “So to take advantage of that, the district has broadened their testing capabilities. For some time, we’ve had a testing center here at the administrative building downtown, and have been serving staff across the district and students in charter schools.”

The school district will be adding an additional two sites to offer more students and staff the resources to get tested for COVID-19.

“We contracted with Beacon to staff those sites,” Melin elaborated. “One site is at West Valley, and the other is at North Pole High School. So any staff or student in the district can go to any one of these three sites and get either an antigen test, which is for those individuals that are not displaying any symptoms but have been exposed or have been around someone who has tested positive for COVID. [Additionally], all three sites have PCR testing, which is for those individuals who are displaying symptoms to know, ‘Is what I have COVID or is it the flu or a cold?’”

The testing sites will operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are available to only school district staff and students according to Melin, who added, “You’ll need to have an ID number, a faculty number, or a student number - an F number or an S number with the district, so we can keep track of who we’re testing.”

The testing sites will be staffed by Beacon Occupational Health and Safety staff who were contracted by the school district. According to Melin, this will help take the pressure off school healthcare workers as well.

“This is really going to also lighten the load of our school nurses and nursing staff, to not have to do the antigen testing and the PCR testing at the school sites,” Melin said. “They have a whole body of work that they do anyway outside of COVID, and one of our reasons for exploring this option is to lighten the load on those healthcare professionals that work in our school buildings. There will still be testing that goes on in the school buildings. This just kind of helps alleviate some of that burden from them, and lets them take care of their population just a little bit better.”

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