Southwest Allen County Schools announced Monday it will accept at-home COVID-19 test results from students effective immediately.
“This new protocol, approved by the CDC, Indiana Department of Health, and the Allen County Department of Health, validates the use of home tests in an effort to keep those sick at home recovering and healthy staff and students in school,” Superintendent Park Ginder said in an email to families.
Students and staff have encountered difficulties getting PCR and antigen tests throughout the county, he said. PCR tests typically provide results in two to three days while antigen tests, also known as rapid tests, can provide results in about 15 minutes.
Last week, the Allen County Health Department's testing site at 5750 Falls Drive in Fort Wayne began limiting the use of rapid antigen tests to those 18 and younger and those 50 and older with COVID-19 symptoms.
The change was made to comply with state health department guidelines based on a national shortage of tests amid high demand from a virus surge, county health department officials have said.
Ginder outlined the steps parents should take if their child has tested for COVID-19: take a picture of the result and email it to the child's school. If the test is positive, parents should keep a copy of the photo and corresponding email for 90 days should the child later be identified as a close contact at school to avoid quarantine.
SACS doesn't keep copies of COVID-19 vaccine records or test results, Ginder said.
Additional information, including schools' email addresses, is available on the district's website, www.sacs.k12.in.us.
Families in neighboring Fort Wayne Community Schools also have the at-home test option, depending on the outcome.
“We will accept positive home tests but not negative, as we have no way to verify who actually took the test or whether it was done correctly,” spokeswoman Krista Stockman said.
Another 736 Allen County residents tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 83,903 cases, the county health department reported Monday. No new deaths were added to the county's 971 deaths since the pandemic began in March 2020.
The Indiana Department of Health reported 10,003 new cases, bringing the total to 1,366,754 since the pandemic began. The number of confirmed deaths remained at 19,084 as no new deaths were reported.
An additional 712 patients who had symptoms but no positive test have also died, state officials said.