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District Lays Out Covid Testing Plan for Students

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By Jorge Casuso

August 20, 2021 -- Mandatory COVID-19 testing will begin for Santa Monica and Malibu public school students next week, District officials announced Friday.

The nasal swab testing will be conducted at all district campuses by Dr. Now and Malibu Medical Group/CURE pending contract approvals by the School Board at a special meeting Monday.

More detailed information about how the testing process will be conducted, as well as other related information, will be provided at the meeting, officials said

"We are working with our medical partners to get the program set up as quickly as possible and expecting testing to commence on Wednesday," District Superintendent Ben Drati wrote in an email to parents, staff and community members.

Under a mandate unanimously approved by the School Board August 12, all students, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to undergo regular mandatory testing ("School Board Mandates Face Masks, Testing for Students and Staff," August 12, 2021).

According to Drati's email, "All testing will be conducted at each school site, per a schedule that will be conveyed to parents and staff.

The nasal swab will be self administered "except for students needing assistance, who may get adult help or other accommodations on an individual basis," Drati wrote.

"If a student refuses testing, the student will be sent home and will not be permitted until school authorities are satisfied that any contagious or infectious disease does not exist," Drati wrote in his email.

The School Board this month also mandated students and staff -- along with anyone entering a District campus or facility -- to wear face masks in-doors and out regardless of vaccination status or testing result.

For students to be exempted from being tested or from wearing a mask, families must submit a form listing the conditions that prevent a child from participating, Drati said.

An exemption form for "religious grounds, disability, medical condition, mental health condition, or hearing condition" is available online by clicking here

A $1.8 million grant from the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), as well as insurance and reimbursements for uninsured individuals, is expected to cover most of the cost of the testing.

The District may have to pitch in an additional $110,000.

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