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Students won't get COVID-19 testing in Chesterfield schools. The district doesn't have enough nurses

Covid
One option Chesterfield schools could take to help combat COVID-19 is an on-site testing program offered by the Virginia Department of Health called Vissta. The program aims to catch cases early to help stop transmission of the virus. But school officials there aren't enough people in the healthcare system to hire extra staff. (Photo from a January vaccination event. Credit: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)  

In Chesterfield County schools, the number of positive COVID-19 cases and kids in quarantine continue to rise. As of Wednesday, Chesterfield lists over 2,400 students in quarantine and more than 550 positive cases in students and staff since Sept. 1.

One option Chesterfield schools could take to help combat COVID-19 is an on-site testing program offered by the Virginia Department of Health called Vissta. The program aims to catch cases early to help stop transmission of the virus. It includes providing supplies and contractors to administer tests.

Dr. Alexander Samuel, director of the Chesterfield Health District, said the program does offer funding to schools to hire additional staff, “But it would require staffing to ensure that the testing is conducted, the testing is sent off and to manage all the administrative side of things,” he said.

At this week’s school board meeting, however, Chesterfield Superintendent Merv Daugherty says providing funding isn’t enough.

“To do weekly testing in our schools, it would require an additional nurse [and other staff members] in each of our schools,” Daugherty said. “But the testing people have to be trained. They may have the money at the state, but there aren’t people there,” Daugherty said.

Daugherty says there aren’t enough people in the healthcare system to hire.

Until there are, the Vissta program won’t be coming to Chesterfield.