Austin school hosts free COVID-19 testing site on campus for families, community

The Austin school hosts a free COVID-19 testing site

Houston Achieve Public Schools and Dascena Labs have teamed up to track COVID-19 across the community. Carissa Lehmkuhl from FOX 7 Austin has details.

A charter school in Austin and a laboratory in Houston have teamed up to track COVID-19 in the community.

Last month, the Austin Achieve Public Schools ran tests on their northeast campus. They saw the need when they realized their proximity to zip codes with higher COVID-19 rates.

“We saw a wandering purple color on the dashboard moving towards the areas where our families lived and that was a serious problem,” said Ricardo Chavana, coordinator of the primary school’s front office. “We thought what can we do about it?”

Austin Achieve employees went to the Texas Department of Emergency Management with their problem.

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Even if an educator qualifies for the 1A or 1B groups, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get a vaccine now.

After doing some research on potential vendors to work with, they decided on Dascena Labs. The medical company uses algorithms to predict and prevent health problems like kidney failure. But when COVID-19 hit, they rerouted.

“We have really invested all of our energy in setting up these test sites over the past two months,” said Mark Anderson, vice president of human resources at Dascena Labs.

The company is now deployed in 15 cities across the country and more soon. By partnering with Austin Achieve, they were able to offer free and quick testing in a convenient location.

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“We’re open early in the morning so you can drop off your child in less than 48 hours, take a quick test and get their results, and then get back to work,” said Dominick Hernandez, Austin site coordinator for Dascena Labs.

The concept of using a school campus as a test site is unique in the region.

“Schools are definitely one of the areas that we focused on just because of this whole family component,” said Anderson. “If you can stop one person in a family from getting COVID-19 or find out that they have COVID-19, you have just stopped it from spreading within an entire family.”

It serves as a line of defense for both families and the school itself. Students or teachers can get tested regularly and then work remotely for a day or two if necessary while they wait for results.

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“It’s an important tool in keeping our personal student populations and teachers on campus,” said Chavana.

He said ideally the next step would be moving from “defense” to a new strategy – vaccinating their teachers.

“We hope we get vaccines so we can go on the offensive in the future,” he said.

From Monday, February 8th, the site will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The northeast campus is located at 7424 E Hwy 290.

The website is open to all members of the community and bilingual staff are available.

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