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Community Labs expands screenings to SMCISD

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Community Labs, a nonprofit laboratory based in San Antonio which was established in 2020 to help fight the spread of COVID-19 in schools, has expanded its screenings beyond Bexar County, including at San Marcos Consolidated ISD schools. 

According to the lab, “The system runs entirely on off-the-shelf tools and technology, requiring no new medical breakthroughs until effective vaccines can be found. Our first City Lab will be able to process 100,000 rapid-results tests per day.” 

Community Labs provides monitored screenings utilizing self-administered swabs of the front of the nostril. The lab conducts assurance testing that identifies asymptomatic silent spreaders of COVID-19 by implementing weekly PCR (polymerase chain reaction) screenings. 

Results from the screenings are returned within 24 hours, which allows individuals that test positive to isolate themselves from the general population, ultimately suppressing the spread of the virus. 

“We were founded to help school districts safely return children to the classroom, where they learn more effectively” Community Labs President Sal Webber said. Thanks to our increased lab capacity, we can now provide this service to school districts beyond Bexar County and still deliver results within 24 hours. Laredo and San Marcos are our first, and we’re eager to offer this service to other Texas school districts. Our data shows a very low positivity rate — less than 0.4% — on the campuses that implement assurance testing with us.”

The laboratory currently provides weekly COVID-19 screenings at more than 350 campuses at 11 Bexar County school districts. With this expansion, it has added weekly screenings at 23 Laredo ISD campuses and across 13 San Marcos CISD schools. 

“We were eager to begin assurance testing on our campuses,” SMCISD Superintendent Michael Cardona said. “Children need to be in the classroom. It’s where and how they learn best. Our partnership with Community Labs is all about increasing the health and safety of our students and staff so they can concentrate on their education.”

The recent implementation of pooling test samples has allowed the lab to increase its capacity to process up to 50,000 samples a day.

Approximately one-third of the market rate for commercial COVID-19 PCR tests, is covered through the State of Texas’ allocation of federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) funding therefore, the Community Labs screenings are at no cost for school districts. 

For additional information regarding Community Labs, visit www.communitylabs.org/

San Marcos Record

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