Lake Travis ISD offering up to five additional days of COVID testing leave

The front door of Tarrytown Pharmacy didn’t get much rest on Tuesday afternoon. "We got 15,000 delivered today just today," said pharmacist Fuller Currie, who said they had been out of at-home COVID tests for a few weeks. "It’s been crazy trying to get these in stock."

The scene at Tarrytown was just a snapshot of what’s been happening nationwide. "They were grabbing some and saying they needed them for their children to go to school and things like that," said Currie.

Students and school staff have been told to stay home and get tested if they feel sick. 

But at Lake Travis ISD, they realize it hasn’t been that simple. They’re asking staff to take a PCR test if symptomatic, but lately, appointments are hard to come by and results are often delayed.

For example, at Austin Regional Clinic the demand for testing has increased over 300% in the last few weeks, according to CEO Dr. Anas Daghestani.

"As a result, the turnaround time for test results has doubled from 1-2 days to 3-4 days," said Dr. Daghestani. "Like schools and businesses, we also have COVID-related staff shortages in addition to the staff shortages we were slowly overcoming before this omicron outbreak."  

Because of the delays, Lake Travis ISD announced on Tuesday that they will be offering up to five days of additional "COVID Testing Leave" for staff that are waiting at home for results.

"We’re seeing just a surge of employees who are having to get tested," said Marco Alvarado, executive director of communications and community relations for Lake Travis ISD. "They need to take a sick day by definition, but that’s not fair to them, and we know there are a number of our staff who are in that predicament."

LTISD also announced a change to its rapid testing protocols.

For asymptomatic staff, LTISD has been rapid testing three times a week. However, due to the high demand, they will now be conducting the testing twice a week.

"We know that if we continue three times a week, we’re going to run out of supplies probably by the end of the week," said Alvarado. "The caveat there is to allow us to keep more supply on hand at the moment when it’s in very high demand."

Lake Travis ISD also provided an update to families on Tuesday regarding COVID-19 protocols moving forward. In addition to continuing current protocols, the district will no longer allow visitors on campus during the school day "with the exception of volunteers, scheduled parent meetings, or as otherwise approved by the school."

The district also shared that they have installed 171 air disinfection devices throughout LTISD campuses. They are waiting for the delivery of additional units as well.

To visit the LTISD Covid-19 dashboard, click here.

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