The Rockingham County School Board meets Monday to discuss a variety of topics, including an update on COVID-19 and the school division’s continued response.

RCPS is one of a handful of school divisions that has chosen to participate in a program called ViSSTA, which provides surveillance testing to students who agree to participate. In doing so, the school division adds another layer of protection against the extremely contagious delta variant that is resulting in a surge in cases.

The program is through the Virginia Department of Health, which provides the tests and the staff to coordinate the weekly testing, and the school division provides the space and at least 20% of the school population for random testing.

On Thursday, RCPS received a shipment of 1,400 rapid tests, said Superintendent Oskar Scheikl. Scheikl has already polled families on whether or not they wish to participate.

Fifty percent of families responded that they would not participate in the testing program, 30% said they would, and 20% said they would if it could lead to masks being optional.

RCPS also plans to use ViSSTA for student athletes.

There is also the possibility that because Virginia is a state that operates under Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines, the vaccine could become mandatory for employees across the board. If that’s the case, having a testing program already in place could be helpful, Scheikl said.

Scheikl will update the School Board on Monday about the progress of ViSSTA, along with a timeline for when testing can begin. Scheikl said he believes the program will be in full swing in a few weeks.

“We’re excited,” he said. “This will lead to even better safety measures.”

According to the RCPS COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 295 positive cases since Aug. 23 as of Friday afternoon.

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272 or mwilliams@dnronline.com. Follow Megan on Twitter @Valley_Learn

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