DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The largest school district in North Texas, Dallas ISD, said it is stocking every campus with COVID-19 rapid tests.

Dallas ISD said the new program is aimed at stopping the spread of the virus once students go back to school, since classes will be 100% in-person when the majority of students start the new year on Monday, August 16.

“We are hoping to have a safe start to school,” said Jennifer Finley, the director of health services for Dallas ISD.

The rapid tests will be available at every school in the district.

The school nurse or a trained campus employee can administer the test when needed.

“It’s available to staff and students at absolutely no charge,” Finley said. “So if someone develops a headache or stomachache during the day, with the varying range of COVID symptoms, you just never know.”

They’ll get clarity in about 15 minutes.

If a student or staff member does test positive, the school can quickly isolate that person, send them home, and then begin the contact tracing process.

Infectious disease experts say increased testing is going to be especially critical this year, since districts aren’t allowed to require masks under the governor’s orders.

“If your kids are sick, please make sure that you’re testing them,” said Dr. Diane Cervantes, an epidemiologist at UNT Health Science Center. “Please make sure that they’re staying at home. That’s going to be foundational to really stopping that spread.”

Dallas ISD says it will also continue the deep cleaning it began last school year, encourage students and staff to wear masks, and hold vaccination clinics for students 12 and up.

“We are hoping that parents feel we’re consistently putting those into place, and they feel more comfortable about sending their student to school,” said Finley.

Students under the age of 18 will need parent permission for the rapid test.

Parents have to fill out a consent form and bring it to school, so it’s on hand at the beginning of the year.

Garland and Lewisville ISDs are also implementing rapid testing programs this school year.

Caroline Vandergriff