VACAVILLE – The Covid-19 test strips were about the size of a small hand. At one end was the cotton swab inserted into the nasal cavity. It all looks like a big pregnancy test.
Mena Bubakar, Covid test collector for BayPLS, a mobile testing company for the Bay Area, puts a solution at the end of the swab to create a reaction to test for Covid. One line means negative and two lines means positive.
Test strips are time stamped and placed on a table. She grabs them after more than a few minutes of waiting. Many of the Saturday tests have two lines, which means that people who entered the The Vacaville School District Covid Testing Center has Covid-19.
“Tests are showing more positive results this month than in September,” Bubakar said. “On an average day, we would have like 10 positives. This push is a lot more.
A text message with the results will be sent in 15 minutes to those who have just taken the test. For those who tested positive, it is a quarantine period of five to 10 days.
Behnaaz Ferozepurwalla, alias Ms. Fero, is a teacher at Vacaville High School. She is not sick, nor is her daughter, Jasmine, 5, or her husband Ashkan, but because of the outbreak the family have decided to be proactive and test themselves regularly.
“None of us got sick,” she said. “But I’m really glad my workplace is offering these free tests because it’s hard to find tests right now.”
With the rise of the omicron variant, more people want to be tested and this is leading to a nationwide shortage of testing.
“It’s a precaution,” said the Vacaville High teacher.
“A lot of teachers at our daughter’s children’s center have come out with this,” her husband Ashkan said. “It’s like we pick her up and every day is a new teacher.”
He travels a lot for his job and because of that he decided they should all test themselves regularly. Fortunately, none of them fell ill.
“We had our shots, we had the boosters,” he said. “Prevention is better than cure.”
The Saturday test is part of an ongoing opportunity offered by the school district to staff and teachers. About 288 people registered to take the Covid test on Saturday.
Ed Santopadre has been Associate Superintendent of Educational Services for five years. he said that the last three school years were nothing like what he expected.
“It caused a lot of adjustments in the way we do things,” he said of the pandemic.
The spike in cases since the Christmas holidays has prompted the school to offer more testing.
“We felt the need to do more testing,” Santopadre said. “After doing some contextual testing for staff and getting really good turnout, we thought we could do more.”
So they first provided school staff and students with free tests, then offered tests to first responders and when they saw how interested people were, they opened up the tests to the community. .
“It’s just hard to get Covid tests right now,” Santopadre said.
Santopadre said he appreciates all the work staff members have put in to help with Covid testing as well as all that has come with this pandemic.
“They’ve been working all week and still volunteering to come out today,” he said of school district staff.
The Vacaville School District has created a dashboard to keep the community informed of the number of cases in each of the schools. There are currently 519 students who have tested positive for Covid along with 53 staff.
Year-to-date, the district has conducted 18,060 tests with 1,231 positive results.
“We’ve streamlined the process,” Santopadre said, “by having all the tests done in one place, getting the results back in 15 minutes so you can just go home and we text you.”
Communications and Crisis Manager Abigail Hilliard is responsible for maintaining the district’s OSHA Covid-19 Health and Safety Prevention and Preparedness Program, as well as Emergency Response Plans III for elementary and secondary schools.
“She put this whole system in place. She was amazing,” Santopadre said. “It’s a way to keep people safe.”
The Daily Republic is offering readers selective coverage related to the coronavirus pandemic free of charge as a community service. The work of our journalists to produce local coverage of the issue is of course not free. To support local journalism, please subscribe.