More than 100 COVID-19 tests conducted on first day of new school program

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — On its first day, more than 100 COVID-19 tests were scheduled and administered through Rhode Island’s new school testing program.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) said out of the 102 COVID-19 tests conducted, only two came back positive ─ one adult and one student.

“It’s incredibly important that students and staff who are symptomatic especially in the K-12 setting get tested to make sure they don’t have COVID-19,” Consultant Medical Director Dr. Philip Chan said. “Testing is really one of those critical parts to the public health response.”

A staff member at Anthony Carnevale Elementary School tested positive, according to spokesperson Laura Hart. The principal and assistant principal must now quarantine for two weeks for coming into close contact with the staffer.

Hart said the person had minimal contact with students on Monday and the impacted work area is now closed for deep cleaning.

R.I. Department of Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green said when a school has a positive case, the entire district does not need to be notified and the school does not necessarily need to be closed down.

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“The school community should be notified,” Infante-Green said. “The people that are in immediate contact are the ones being notified as well to quarantine.”

Lincoln School in Providence also confirmed Tuesday that they have a positive case in their upper school.

In a statement the school said, “we took immediate action as soon as we became aware of the situation, including notifying our parents and students, and are following all health and safety protocols as outlined by the Rhode Island Department of Health.”

Based on information from the Health Department, the case appears to be a student.

“We do expect both students and staff to occasionally test positive what we really want to prevent is that wide spread outbreak within the school system,” Chan said. “Hopefully with this approach, with the testing incorporated, which is a key piece, this will let our schools stay open and let us continue the school year.”

Right now, Rhode Island has the ability to run 5,000 tests a day for students, teachers and staff, which will allow the state to quickly identify positive cases and their close contacts.

Any teacher or student that is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or has been directed to get tested can schedule an appointment by calling (844) 857-1814. Appointments can be made for any day of the week between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.

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