The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

MoCo Covid test distribution sparks issues

MCPS distributed covid tests to students on January 10 and February 14.
Steve Bohnel
MCPS distributed covid tests to students on January 10 and February 14.

In the weeks of Jan. 10 and Feb. 14, MCPS distributed take-home rapid test kits to all students and staff across the county. These tests were meant to mitigate the spread of the Covid virus. Montgomery County has already insisted that any individual who displays symptoms of Covid should stay at home and quarantine themselves. So, supposedly the purpose of this mass distribution of test equipment is to detect cases for asymptomatic individuals, whether for data collection or for individual students’ well being. There are a variety of questions regarding the effectiveness of this approach.

For one, individuals who are already symptomatic wouldn’t be receiving the Covid tests anyways because they would be quarantining at home. So logically, these tests would be primarily for asymptomatic individuals who can get tested so that they can quarantine if they test positive. But the tests distributed – iHealth rapid antigen tests – were explicitly designed for symptomatic individuals. To quote the iHealth Labs site, “Additional asymptomatic individuals and individuals beyond the seven days of symptom onset were tested, but excluded from the primary performance calculations because they were not included in the intended use”. The FDA authorized the use of a single iHealth test only for individuals with symptoms, and for those without symptoms, requiring two tests in a three day period, with a minimum of 24 hours in between administering the two tests. The MCPS Covid response team seems to have completely avoided informing the student body that they need to administer both of the tests before having a definitive result. The Walter Johnson letter that was distributed alongside the tests specified that “following the first test, ALL STUDENTS must use the google form below to report their test results,” and the email distributed by MCPS didn’t specify further. MCPS advised students to take the tests the day they get them and report the first test via the google form, which is blatantly against the procedures outlined by the FDA in their authorization of the iHealth tests.

The attempt at distributing iHealth tests was a good stunt to make every MCPS student and staff member feel like they are being taken care of. but, an effective solution would have been to, on a case-by-case basis, administer actual PCR tests for individuals who have good reason to believe that they are at risk of carrying Covid asymptomatically. Conducting these tests immediately after winter break would have been an excellent time for this to occur.

After reaching out to various individuals in the MCPS Office of the Chief Financial Officer to gather information on the expense of ordering upwards of 160,000 covid tests, there has been no information provided on these statistics.

Story continues below advertisement

As the pandemic remains in our lives for the long haul, the various institutions that we engage with are trying their best to make us feel like they’re looking out for our best interests – whether or not their policies are. MCPS is doing a good job balancing the many parties involved in the school system and all of their interests with regard to the pandemic, but their record is far from perfect. Actions like this test distribution seem to be more focused on public appeal than effective pandemic relief.

0
0
Leave a Comment
Donate to The Pitch
$775
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Walter Johnson High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ryan Leal
Ryan Leal, Staff Writer
Ryan is a staff writer for the Spring 2022 term. This is his senior year and he's spending it leading the Math and Physics teams at WJ.
Donate to The Pitch
$775
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Pitch Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *