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Hamblen Co. Schools using grant money to buy more COVID-19 tests for voluntary testing

Officials said that they received an ELC grant for $1.7 million. Some of the money will also go to funding other kinds of COVID-19 mitigation.

HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. — Hamblen County Schools is expected to buy several rapid COVID-19 tests soon after officials said they received an Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity grant for $1.7 million.

They said the tests would allow people get to get results within 24 hours, and they would be offered on a voluntary basis. Currently, the school system is only offering COVID-19 tests for staff members and their children. Once they get more, Superintendent Jeff Perry said he expects schools will be able to offer students more chances to get tested for COVID-19.

He said the voluntary testing could start as soon as Jan. 24, if the school system gets the tests on time. However, Superintendent Perry said that the school has experienced some supply chain issues that could delay when the tests arrive.

He also said they planned to call and ask parents for permission before testing students for COVID-19. Parents and guardians will need to come into the school for elementary and middle school students. High school students will still need permission from parents or guardians, but they may not need to show up at the school, depending on the student's age.

Perry said that educators hope to identify people who have COVID-19 and get them to leave the building, helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, he said it can be hard to identify people who could have COVID-19 since symptoms may be slight with the Omicron variant.

They also said they were not sure specifically how many test kits they would need. It would depend on the number of people who choose to get tested, according to Perry.

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