by Robbie Owens | CBS 11

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With COVID-19 cases surging, some DFW area schools are hoping increased testing will help them curb the spread by identifying who’s infected.

The effort is part of a state pilot program to provide rapid antigen tests to school districts.

According to a spokesperson, Fort Worth ISD this week will begin testing what they call “high contact staff”– for example, employees working in transportation and maintenance.

Dallas ISD is already testing students.

“When we have individuals on campus–whether staff or student–that are asymptomatic, and we don’t know they have it, there is the opportunity for them to spread it,” says Sherry Christian, DISD Deputy Chief of Staff. “So as many people as we can get tested, and find those that are asymptomatic, and remove them from the environment, the safer we can be.”

On Monday, Nov. 16, student athletes at Madison High School were in the first group to volunteer for the testing.

The testing is optional and requires parental consent.

District staffers are already preparing for more positive cases.

“It’s just like getting tested anywhere else,” explains Christian. “We isolate them, we contact trace, and we notify those individuals who have been deemed close contacts, and those individuals go on quarantine.”

Students and families at Caillet Elementary in Northwest Dallas also offered the rapid testing.

The school was closed for more than a week and instruction moved online after several cases were confirmed.

The testing is considered additional reassurance before classes resume on Tuesday. But staffers say there is even more that families can do.

“Those that are able– go ahead and get their flu shot,” says Jennifer Finley, DISD Director of Health Services. “That’s a huge help because it’s so difficult to differentiate between `is it flu or Covid?’ The symptoms are very similar.”

Caillet is the second Dallas ISD campus forced to close due to COVID-19 cases.

District staffers are encouraging everyone to take precautions– wearing masks, washing hands, and staying home to slow the spread– because that will allow students to go to school.

“We are doing our best to keep schools open,” says Christian. “We want to stay as safe as possible and these tests give us another tool in our toolbox to keep schools open.”

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