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Poway Unified among districts that never received at-home COVID tests; San Diego County parents, students prepare to resume school

While SDUSD students were given rapid tests to take home before winter break, other districts did not receive tests from the state. School is set to resume Monday.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Unified School District distributed testing kits to students before winter break. They said the first test should have been taken on New Year’s Eve, but other local districts did not receive tests leaving many parents with questions. 

“We are wanting to come back, but also wanting everyone to be safe. It’s our priority. So, there are lots of mixed emotions, but hoping to get back soon to normal,” said Kristin Arrington, Hawthorne Elementary School teacher. 

Arrington was waiting in a long line Sunday at the San Diego Unified School District COVID-19 testing site to make sure she tests negative before school starts back up Monday. 

“Feeling mixed feelings about coming back and I’m worried,” said Arrington.

In a note to parents, San Diego Unified School District wrote, “As our country enters a new and dangerous stage of the COVID-19 pandemic with case rates on the rise due to the Omicron variant, please have your students use one of the district-provided at-home COVID-19 rapid tests on Monday, January 3rd before returning to school.”

Then, they ask parents to upload results by clicking this link on their website. 

However, this wasn’t the case for the Poway Unified School District.

Parents and students received an email Saturday that read: 

“Unfortunately, the free COVID test kits that were promised from the State have not arrived. Earlier this week, we were told that the State would ship rapid at-home tests for every student returning from winter break, for distribution this weekend. Today, we and other school districts were informed that the shipment did not arrive, and the San Diego County Office of Education does not know when we can expect to receive them. We will follow up with an update when we do receive the test kits from the State.

If your child has COVID-like symptoms, or has been in contact with someone with COVID-19, please keep them home and get a test to see if they have COVID-19. Contact your healthcare provider, make an appointment at our testing partner Phamatech, or visit one of the free COVID-19 testing locations across the county. If your child has tested positive for COVID-19, please keep them home and contact your school.

Both the CDC and CDPH have reduced their quarantine recommendations for those who test positive or are exposed from 10 days down to 5 days, with a negative test.

We look forward to welcoming our students back with all of our virus transmission mitigation strategies in place, including upgraded air filtration and ventilation, universal facial coverings indoors, contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts, required vaccination or weekly testing of all employees, and the availability of vaccinations for students.”

“If we got ours, they should have gotten theirs. Everything with shipping is crazy right now. It’s an unfortunate side effect of everything going on right now,” said Arrington. 

San Diego Unified tweeted “free kits and rapid tests are available Sunday” which stirred up a lot of commotion on Twitter.

This person tweeted “Why wait until now to ask us to do this? Some proper planning would be much appreciated. That is literally what we pay you to do!”

Another person tweeted “Still better than what Carlsbad Unified is doing, no tests sent or available. This feels like a third-world style organization. The logical thing to do would be to require students get tested before school and delay opening until tests are available.”

Poway Unified tweeted “All Poway Unified campuses will resume in person Monday. School athletics and tournaments are also continuing. PUSD families can check their emails for details.”

“A lot of up in the air and a lot of wanting to be back, but also wanting to be safe and that’s the biggest thing is wanting the teachers and kids and families to be safe,” said Arrington. 

Carlsbad Unified School District says school will resume Monday. They will have daily COVID-19 testing locations on four campuses. 

The San Diego County Office of Education issued the following statement to News 8 about its lack of at-home tests as of Saturday. 

“Unfortunately, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has still not received any at-home COVID-19 antigen tests from the state for distribution to our region’s districts and charter schools. California Department of Public Health representatives have told SDCOE that testing kits may be received ‘early next week depending on many factors (weather, customs, warehouse capacity, etc.).’ 

We will notify school leaders as soon as we have received the test kits in order to coordinate pickup dates.”

For other local school districts, they say it’s best to stay updated on their websites.

WATCH RELATED: Now is the time to use at-home COVID-19 tests before school starts