COVID-19 Testing at Wenatchee High School


Jennifer Rodas, Staff Reporter

 The Wenatchee School District and the Chelan Douglas Health District have teamed up in order to provide free COVID-19 testing at the Wenatchee High School parking lot. The free testing was originally open to the public Oct. 6-9 from 1 p.m. through 7 p.m. However, it was recently extended to include Oct. 13-16 from 1 p.m. through 6 p.m. No photo identification is required, and results are available within 24-48 hours after getting tested.

    The WSD and CDHD will be using the data gathered from the screenings to determine if it is safe to go into hybrid instruction. In order to collect the best data possible, the WSD and CDHD are encouraging the community to take advantage of this opportunity and get tested.

    “The more people who get tested, the more help they’re providing for us to be able to reopen our schools. The more we know, the better information we have and the better, more grounded, scientific decision making we can have when it comes to [deciding] when it is safe to reopen our schools,” Communications Director Diana Haglund said.

    The goal for the WSD is to have a low rate of COVID-19 results, similar to those of the surrounding towns who are reopening their schools this fall.

    “One percent prevalence rate is really where we [and the health district] would like to be. In other communities surrounding Wenatchee, for example, Cascade and Leavenworth, [they have] conducted the same type of testing recently and their prevalence rates showed a 2% prevalence. The community was at a safe rate, and the health district allowed them to make plans to reopen in mid-October,” Haglund said.

    In the case of having a high prevalence rate, the District will continue to encourage the community to follow the health guidelines and retest in the future.

    “We would plan to retest periodically just to see what those test results are. The crazy thing about the testing that we’re doing right now is when we do this testing, you go through the drive-through, they have the nasal swab, [days later] you get your test results back and it may say that you tested negative. If you go to the grocery store and walk around without a mask on, you might pick up COVID an hour later. It’s hard to say with 100% certainty that this is what our rate is, but this will give us a snapshot in time of where we’re at and help us better understand,” Haglund said.

    The WSD has been working on reopening plans for when the time comes and it is safe to do so. In the case of a low prevalence where the CDHD allows the district to reopen schools, WSD will be moving forward with a hybrid model beginning with Elementary schools, particularly kindergarten through second grade.

     “Learning is particularly hard for preschool, kindergarten, first and second-grade students. It’s really important that we bring those kids back first and help them acclimate to the classroom. Little kids are not always able to keep their masks on or may not be able to follow protocols for social distancing. Those are the types of things we’re working hard on. To make sure we have strategies in place so the little ones can be taught to follow those mitigation strategies,” Haglund said.

     Protecting the health and well-being of the students is what the WSD and the CDHD’s main priority is, along with getting their students back in the classroom in a safe way.

    “We know that our parents are very concerned about the health and well-being of their children. It’s our number one priority as well. We are doing a survey with our families to find out their comfort level in returning to hybrid instruction,” Haglund said. “If [parents] don’t feel comfortable sending their kids back, there’s space available for those students to continue learning online.”