A new kind of test

Teachers and their children can get free rapid COVID tests at school

Junior+Lucas+Finger%2C+son+of+band+teacher+Craig+Finger%2C+was+tested+for+COVID-19+at+Nixa+High+School.

Braden Dennis

Junior Lucas Finger, son of band teacher Craig Finger, was tested for COVID-19 at Nixa High School.

Darby Allen, Design Editor

Tests are a normal part of the lives of students and teachers at Nixa High School, but as COVID-19 cases fluctuate, a new kind of test is rising — this test is for teachers.
Missouri has provided Nixa Public Schools faculty and staff with rapid COVID-19 tests free of charge. Nurse Lindsay Ball conducts many of these tests.
“The state department of health was the one who approved of these tests and the public schools access to them,” Ball said. “We had to sign up if we were interested in doing testing for the school, and the state government is paying for the tests.”
Currently, the tests are only open to faculty and staff members, along with their children.
“In the near future, we’re going to start testing students as well, but we are still in the development phase,” Ball said.
As a district, Nixa has conducted a total of 278 tests as of Jan. 12, and more were being scheduled daily. The NHS tests are conducted in the athletics office.
The rapid tests done at the school are slightly different than the standard tests done at hospitals. While standard COVID-19 tests take 24 to 48 hours on average to get results, these tests take only 15 minutes.
“It’s an antigen interior nasal test,” Ball said. “We swab both nostrils for a few seconds, and put the swab into a test kit with the reagent that reacts to the sample.”
Even though the amount of time it takes to get results is significantly shortened, accuracy is only compromised by a small margin. Traditional tests are generally considered 96 percent accurate while the rapid ones were found to be 94 percent accurate.
Junior Lucas Finger received one of these tests at the high school.
“The test was really quick. I sat down and within 15 minutes I got results,” Finger said. “It didn’t hurt at all.”
Finger said the NHS experience was easier and less painful than other COVID-19 tests he had taken.
“I’ve had a couple tests done at Mercy and both times it’s been very professional and me waiting in the car to get tested,” Finger said. “Those were a lot more painful.”
In order to conduct these tests safely at the high school, a few extra preventative measures are taken.
“All the nurses do daily temperature screenings and we have a controlled testing environment,” Ball said. “We have a separate room, and a specific way to dispose of waste by biohazard waste removal. We wear as much protective gear as possible while testing an individual, just in case it is a positive result.”
During Finger’s test, safety measures were precisely followed.
“She put on a protective jacket and wore a face shield and a mask,” Finger said. “When I was walking to get tested, they surrounded me to make sure I didn’t go near any other students.”
In the case that somebody tests positive, the district does what it can to ensure everyone’s safety.
“After every appointment, we wipe down surfaces by cleaners,” Ball said. “The district provided us with a UV lamp which is stationary, and it kills basically the germs in air and on surfaces.”
The tests help keep exposures down with rapid results.
“I am very thankful that we have access to these tests,” Ball said. “Hopefully we will be able to help people come back to school quicker.”