Collaboration in COVID care
BY LAYLA NIBLOCK
Students wearing masks arrange themselves in neat lines, approaching each testing station in an orderly manner. Once at the front, they state their number and their nose is swabbed. This dystopian scene takes place every Wednesday at DSA.
Once a week, Mako Medical sets up shop in front of Weaver Auditorium to administer COVID tests to registered students. These tests collect important data and are one of the tools used by DPS to keep students in school. However, this data is only useful if it is current and trusted. Throughout the year there have been some issues with the testing; from results being sent to students that didn't get tested to students in a positive pool coming back to school to get retested. Luckily, Mako has worked to remedy these issues and make testing more accessible to students.
“At first, I felt uncomfortable getting tested because I noticed they weren't sanitizing their hands in between testing, but now I feel more comfortable because I see that they're wearing gloves and use hand sanitizer in between each swab,” Elizabeth Lischer, an 11th grader at DSA, observed.
Lischer, like so many other students, relies on Mako Medical for COVID testing each week, as there are a limited number of at-home tests available. Earlier in the school year, Mako’s testing process could take a full class period, causing students to miss crucial class time.
“For the past few weeks, [getting tested] has been very convenient. I have been able to stop and get tested while walking to class and still get there on time. In the past, I've had to wait in line for upwards of half an hour, so they've definitely made some improvements,” Lischer elaborated.
One of these improvements includes rapid retesting for students that are in a positive pool. Mako Medical offers pool testing to schools throughout North Carolina in order to cut costs, meaning multiple student swabs are placed in each test. If a pool comes up positive, then all of the students are retested.
“I believe that their testing process is mostly effective. Their initial pooled testing has worked well for me so far, but I haven't had to be re-tested at all yet,” Lischer explained.
These improvements to the testing process are important, as COVID testing is a powerful preventative measure to reduce the spread of COVID.
PHOTO CREDIT: @mako.medical
Mako Medical provides COVID tests in the form of nasal swabs to over 40 states. According to their website, https://makomedical.com, they have processed more than 8 million COVID tests since April 2020.
But even with the improvements that have been made, there are always more that can be done to make the process more accessible and appealing to students.
“We could possibly have more testers to make it more efficient. Having testing only one day a week is still a handicap for some students. This is why I asked [Mako] to be available at more times during the day. But Mako has been very cooperative, with adjusting when we needed them to add more time,” Dr. Tobias, the principal of DSA, elaborated.
Dr. Tobias has been getting tested since the service started in hopes of encouraging more students to do so.
“I interact with many people, so I look at it as my responsibility to get tested, especially since it is readily available at school. It takes time during the school day, but until our cases become low and we can remove masks, I feel that it is a good thing to do,” Tobias concluded.