Editor’s Note: Vancouver Public Schools said Wednesday morning that a press release about testing sites was sent prematurely and plans for COVID-19 testing sites are on hold for now. Until a vetted partnership is established, the district will continue offering free optional testing at the Jim Parsley Center for current VPS students and staff members when school is in session 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Embry Health will offer free COVID-19 tests at five schools in Vancouver Public Schools, but not as soon as expected.
The health care company had said the test sites would open at five schools on Monday, but a spokeswoman for Vancouver Public Schools said Wednesday that the district is waiting on required paperwork before it can proceed. She said the district will announce the opening date for the test sites later.
Embry Health had said it hoped to expand the operation to 22 schools across the district by Jan. 3. Tests will be available to the public in the parking lots of each school.
The initial rollout was to be at the following schools:
- Alki Middle School, 1800 N.W. Bliss Road.
- Gaiser Middle School, 3000 N.E. 99th St..
- Discovery Middle School, 800 40th St..
- Hudson’s Bay High School, 1601 E. McLoughlin Blvd..
- McLoughlin Middle School, 5802 MacArthur Blvd..
This round of available testing comes as news of the omicron variant of COVID-19 has started to spread across the world. Regional and local school officials told The Columbian they are monitoring the variant and will follow guidelines from the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. As of now, OSPI has not adjusted any of its recommendations or protocols to Washington school districts.
“We have consistently said that our schools are one of the safest — if not the safest — places for our children, with universal masking, staff vaccinated, distancing, hygiene practices, disinfecting protocols, and a growing number of school-aged children and youth vaccinated. as well,” said Katy Payne, OSPI’s director of communications.