LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ten percent of Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) students are being tested weekly for the coronavirus.

What You Need To Know

  • JCPS offers free weekly COVID-19 testing at its schools

  • Parents or guardians must give permission for their children to participate

  • 10% of JCPS students or roughly 10,000 children are signed up for routine testing

  • School officials say it's quick and easy and nasal swabs are no more than a "tickle" 

For Jefferson County Public Schools, the fight against the coronavirus includes weekly testing of students. These tests are voluntary and require parent or guardian approval.

Every Tuesday, about 150 students at Greathouse Shryock Elementary file into the lunchroom and two at a time are tested for COVID-19.

“COVID-19 testing is happening in every elementary school, once a week across JCPS," Principal Karla Davis told Spectrum News 1.

Davis said there was some initial apprehension among students and parents but the uncomfortable nasal testing utilized in the beginning part of the pandemic is a thing of the past. These swabs swipe the nostrils.

“It tickles a little bit. Some of the students say, 'Oh it’s just like picking your nose,'" Davis said with a laugh. "So it’s not invasive. It’s very quick.”

Approximately 150 Greathouse students are signed up by their parents for the weekly tests out of 600 students attending the K-5 school. Across all JCPS, about 10% of students are participating.

A student is tested for Covid (Spectrum News 1/Jonathon Gregg)

“For success with screen programs like this, at least 10% is what you hope for. Of course the more you have participating, the more effective it is," Eva Stone said.

Stone is the Manager District Health for JCPS. She is also a nurse practitioner. 

Stone said these tests not only show whether a student has COVID-19 but also if they are contagious.

“That’s right, and these tests are really tests of infectiousness and so these kinds of tests are designed to really help pick up on if somebody is infectious and possibly could transmit it to somebody else in the school setting," Stone said.

Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children 12 and older so testing is one of several ways JCPS is hoping to prevent outbreaks.

For families who are opting out of testing, Stone asks them to reconsider.

“It’s important for your family to know your student’s status. It helps you protect your family members. It helps reduce transmission in the school," Stone said.

“We all want to stop the spread and knowing who has been exposed and who hasn’t I think it’s very important," Davis said.

JCPS schools are also expanding the number of drive-thru testing sites for teachers, students and parents.

Stone said as of this week there are 24 sites across JCPS.