Department of Health Supports COVID-19 Testing in New Mexico Schools

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The NM DOH has partnered with the NM PED in providing support and assistance for COVID-19 testing since the beginning of the pandemic and is prepared to continue with that effort under the new CDC guidelines.

The most recent CDC document “Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Kindergarten (K)-12 Schools” strongly reinforces the role of COVID- 19 screening as an important tool for mitigation of  COVID-19 in all New Mexico schools.

Support for COVID-19 screening in New Mexico schools has been significantly strengthened by a recent grant award from the CDC to DOH. This grant (CK 19-1904 COVID-19 Supplemental Funds ELC Reopening Schools) is a piece of the $1.9T American Rescue Plan. Eighty-five percent of the grant award is to support COVID-19 school-based screening and testing for more than 800 schools in 89 public school districts, public charters, nonpublic, BIE and tribally-controlled schools and is being administered by the New Mexico Public Health Division, Office School and Adolescent Health.

As indicated in the CDC guidelines, COVID-19 mitigation will vary from district to district and school to school depending on the prevalence of infections and many other local factors. As a result, the DOH has developed a selection of supports under this plan:

  1. Options for a school-based testing program to include Point of Care (POC) rapid testing and possibly POC PCR testing which has the benefit of most rapid response. An option for pool testing using PCR based test is available. This will benefit schools who have larger numbers of students and staff to COVID-19 screen especially in areas of low prevalence. Providers of testing will provide turnkey support for schools to minimize disruption of educational activities. Mail-in COVID-19 testing historically offered by Curative and Vault will be available for staff and students.
  2. Provide direct financial support for a COVID-19 screening in schools’ program to include awards to be sent to schools to use towards COVID-19 testing personnel, application fees for CLIA Certificate of Waiver, waste management services and equipment. This award may be used to supplement existing school personnel and hiring additional full or part time personnel including school nurses, health assistants, behavioral health counselors, and social workers.
  3. The DOH is exploring options whereby data request and requirements from schools will be streamlined and more school friendly. Additionally, funds for student health management systems supports will be made available by application.

The anticipated launch date for the NM ELC Grant- Reopening of Schools rollout will be between August 23, 2021 through September 7, 2021 with updates sent to you along the way. For questions, please contact info@nmschoolscovidtesting.com.