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Lee Health COVID-19 Response Team Springs into Action at Schools

Children's Health
Author name: Lee Health


Since the start of the second quarter in the Lee County school district, school campuses have reported an uptick of COVID-19 cases.

In swift response to the increase, Lee Health and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida have partnered with the School District of Lee County to administer rapid COVID-19 tests to students and employees.

School officials say the number of cases is “very minimal.”

In an effort to keep that number from growing, the partnership aims to reduce exposure risks and lower the number of kids that have to be quarantined, says Alyssa Bostwick, vice president of operations and chief nurse executive at Golisano Children's Hospital.

“The children’s hospital has four teams of two people ready to respond anywhere in the county to a school where rapid testing is needed,” Bostwick says. “It takes 15 minutes to get a result, so parents and students can get an answer quickly and contact tracing and quarantine can begin immediately.”

The 2,000 tests, provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services, are available for free and are given on a first come, first serve, voluntary basis to students (with parental consent) and staff who show symptoms of the coronavirus.

Each kit contains nasal-swab based tests that offer results within 15 minutes.

How does voluntary rapid testing work?

Students and staff who exhibit symptoms on campus are sent to an isolation room, a separate area from the school clinic where they can be monitored or they can rest while waiting for a guardian to pick them up from school.

According to Dr. Stephanie Stovall, pediatric infectious disease physician and medical director of quality and safety at Golisano Children’s Hospital, a rapid test will be offered to people who show at least one high-risk symptom or at least two low-risk symptoms.

“High-risk symptoms are a cough, shortness of breath or a new loss of taste or smell,” Dr. Stovall explains. “If the person shows at least two low-risk symptoms, such as a fever, chills, muscle aches, sore throat, runny nose or an upset stomach, they may also be eligible for testing.”

Because the rapid test is voluntary, the parent or guardian must sign a waiver of approval for the student to receive it.

After that, the COVID Response Team from Golisano Children’s Hospital is dispatched to the school to administer the test. All results are reported to the Department of Health.

If the person tests positive:

  • The Department of Health is contacted and contact tracing starts.
  • The person who must go home to quarantine until they are better and without symptoms.

If the person tests negative:

  • The person must remain out of school for 10 days, or until they are cleared by a physician to return.

The school district is not identifying the number of cases at each school nor if they involve students, teachers, or staff. Since the school year began, the district has sent home 270 notices about positive COVID cases to families, according to the News-Press.

“It takes a village to ensure the students in our community are as healthy and safe as possible,” Bostwick says. “This is a great example of the power in partnerships and a silver lining in the COVID-19 cloud. We are pleased to provide this free service in partnership with the Lee County school district and supported by the Lee County government.”

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  • Golisano Childrens Hospital of Southwest Florida

    Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida delivers lifesaving care for children and their families: surgery, intensive care, behavioral health, outpatient care, social services, and the only Emergency Department in Southwest Florida designed just for kids.