Sequoyah High School to use rapid COVID-19 tests
The Cherokee Nation acquired 6,000 tests through the federal Indian Health Services to enhance COVID-19 testing at Sequoyah Schools and among its most vulnerable citizens. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – With in-person classes resuming at Sequoyah Schools, students and staff are able to take rapid COVID-19 tests before entering the facilities.
The Cherokee Nation acquired 6,000 tests through the federal Indian Health Services to enhance how the tribe tests for the virus at Sequoyah and among its most vulnerable citizens, according to a CN press release.
The new testing system called the Abbott BinaxNOW diagnostic test is able to give positive or negative results in approximately 15 minutes.
The rapid tests were implemented into Sequoyah Schools as part of the tribe’s plan to safely allow students to participate in limited, in-person classroom instruction.
The test is a swab that goes just inside the nasal cavity, is compact and runs on a card that is the size of a credit card to detect the presence of COVID-19. No laboratory machinery is required and trained staff and personnel give the tests.
“We worked Cherokee Nation Health Services to train staff to oversee the testing and to implement safe and confidential protocols to both administer the tests and to give out the results,” Corey Bunch, CN Education Services executive director, said. “This training included proper PPE (personal protective equipment), testing procedures and other best practices.”
In the CN press release, CN Chief of Staff Todd Enlow said this new testing capability adds to the tribe’s existing practices such as mandatory masks and social distancing.
“We can test students, teachers and staff weekly and get results before they are even allowed into the building,” Enlow said. “This allows us to safely bring students back to school for at least one day of in-person learning each week.”
Protocols are also in place should a student or staff member’s results come back negative.
“If a student is negative, he or she will receive an armband but will still be monitored for symptoms throughout the day,” Bunch said. “If a student or staff member tests positive, he or she will be notified in a confidential manner and given guidance by the school nurse on their next recommended steps.”
Sequoyah High School students returned to in-person classes at least one day a week on Oct. 19. Freshmen attend Mondays with sophomores attending Tuesdays. Juniors report to school on Wednesday while seniors attend Thursdays. All students attend virtually on Fridays. The Cherokee Immersion School remains in virtual teaching status.