Marshall ISD will soon have the capability to provide free COVID-19 testing to the district’s students and staff as part of the Virtual Care for Families program.

Trained personnel, including nursing staff and athletic trainers, will administer the rapid tests, which are for district students and district employees only. Tests will be administered only to students and staff who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and those who are deemed to be in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus.

“We are excited to be able to provide this access to testing for our students and employees,” said Dr. Jerry Gibson, MISD Superintendent. “This allows us to immediately provide testing within our school district and will greatly enhance our ability to detect COVID-19 in our schools and prevent spread of the virus.”

There will be no out-of-pocket costs for any tests that are administered under the program, which is provided through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act. The VCF is delivering the same rapid COVID-19 tests and protocols currently in use by major professional sports leagues and NCAA athletic programs.

The testing program is also approved by the Texas Education Agency.

Under the program in MISD, a student or staff member will be referred for testing should they begin to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. Two forms of parental consent will be required, first by registering at https://virtualcarefamilies.com/safe-athletics/ and also a district-required consent form which is provided in the student’s Skyward Family Access Portal.

Once consent has been confirmed, the district’s designated, trained medical professionals will administer a “rapid” COVID-19 test, with results expected within just a few minutes. Should the test come back positive, the individual will immediately be placed in quarantine and the district’s COVID-19 mitigation protocols will be followed.

The tests are approximately 97 percent accurate, according to VCF. MISD medical personnel administering the tests will determine if an individual is permitted to remain on campus with or without a negative test result. This determination will be based on the individual’s specific symptoms in conjunction with the test result and MISD’s illness exclusion criteria.

All MISD students and staff are eligible to benefit from the testing program, provided consent is given. The tests will not be administered to anyone who is not a current student or employee of MISD.

The testing program will be available at all campuses once the district returns from Fall Break on Tuesday, Oct. 20.