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Rapid COVID-19 testing pilot program coming to Washington schools

Starting next week, some teachers and staff in Auburn will be the first to take part in a rapid COVID-19 testing program.

AUBURN, Wash. — Starting next week, some teachers and staff in Auburn will be the first to take part in a rapid COVID-19 testing program.

School districts in Washington state are partnering with Seattle Children's Research Institute for the pilot program.

So far, the Auburn School District has received 7,680 test kits. The school district has more than 16,700 students and 2,600 staff members.

Students 11 years and older will be able to participate, as well as family members and district staff.

Auburn School District Assistant Superintendent Rhonda Larson said district leaders are excited to be the first to take part in the program.

"Being able to offer [this to] asymptomatic people ensures that we are having yet another layer, beyond our quality mitigating factors, to be able to help keep schools safe to help everybody feel safe about having their children at school," Larson said.

"We want to stay open, we want to be able to phase in more and more students being able to come to school, and [we want] parents knowing and staff knowing that we are doing our very best to stay up and keep the learning going," she continued.

Seattle Children's Research Institute staff will be a part of the training process.

"We have a mobile van that travels around the state of Washington to primarily title one eligible schools to provide them STEM education. And it is this team that that will be traveling around in the mobile science adventure lab to train the school districts how to use these rapid COVID-19 tests," said Dr. Eric Tham with Seattle Children's Research Institute.

Test results will be confidential and available within 15 minutes of taking the test.

The pilot program will eventually reach 139 schools. This means 6,000 staff members and about 12,000 students will be tested each week.

The program is optional, and will not be required for students or staff.