West Virginia schools to see increased COVID-19 testing after federal funding

FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – All West Virginians ages 16 and older are now eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

However, the state is still investing to prevent the spread of coronavirus, particularly in schools.

“The state allocated about $53 million, that came from federal moneys, for testing in students in the K-12 environment,” said Fayette County Schools’ Superintendent Gary Hough.

COVID-19 variants continue to spread throughout the state. The UK variant is the most popular in Fayette County, about 1.5 times more contagious than the initial strand. Fayette County Health Officer Dr. Anita Stewart says one of the goals for the increased testing in schools is to combat super spreaders.

“The younger population is important, particularly with the variants,” Stewart said. “We know that we’re seeing increased spread in those groups.”

One of the goals for Fayette County schools this semester is to offer more consistency for students, both inside and outside of the classroom. Hough feels that this should only improve with the influx of money for testing.

“The more that we get this situation straightened out, the less quarantining and the more back to normal and the more consistent instruction we can give our students,” Hough said.

It could be up to a year before all age groups can be vaccinated against COVID-19. More testing in younger age groups is important to contain the virus and keep both students and staff in the building.

“We have to do other methods,” Stewart said. “Like testing with early contact tracing, case investigation.”

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