Despite calls for help, school districts fend for themselves on campus coronavirus tests

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Laurie Goldfinger, left, attendance secretary for Agoura High School, is given a coronavirus test by phlebotomist Jessica Garcia at Wright Middle School in Calabasas.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Laurie Goldfinger, left, attendance secretary for Agoura High School, is given a coronavirus test by phlebotomist Jessica Garcia at Wright Middle School in Calabasas.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Lennox School District Supt. Scott Price has dealt with academic programs, union negotiations and budget deficits. But nothing has prepared him or other education leaders to make decisions about a pressing medical issue: How to — or even whether to — provide school-based coronavirus testing to students, teachers and other staff.

Many experts view regular, universal testing at schools as a crucial component to helping campuses reopen and remain open, while also contributing toward curbing the raging pandemic. Yet California does not require school-based testing and no one has offered to pay for it. So, Price is going to take a pass — with some misgivings — and try to keep his staff and 5,000 students safe through other means when they are able to return to campus.

“In a small school district, we don’t have the resources or expertise with which we could implement a comprehensive testing program,” Price said.

Price’s dilemma — and his decision — appear to be the default for many school systems across Los Angeles County and beyond. Frustrations over closed schools continue to increase and were expressed in early November in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom from leaders of seven of the state’s largest school systems. They called for the testing of all students and staff, uniform testing guidelines, and the resources to pay for it — but have not yet received a response, said Los Angeles schools Supt. Austin Beutner.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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