Desert Sands Unified School District hosted a COVID-19 testing clinic before starting classes again on Monday. This comes as pediatric COVID-19 cases are increasing in Riverside County.
Long lines of people waited for the free testing clinic on Sunday at the DSUSD office in La Quinta. Some waited for more than an hour and a half in line The district said 1,028 people were tested total.
Jessica Chaves and her two daughters were just a few of the hundreds of people in line at the DSUSD COVID-19 testing clinic.
“I think that's why the turnout is so big here today and why we showed up today because it was hard to plan for a test for [my daughters] outside of here," said Chaves. “In the last five days, we had a family trip over the holiday and we were around people that had symptoms.”
Chaves said she wants to be proactive and make sure her girls are safe.
Jonas Horn is a junior at Palm Desert High School. He also did some holiday traveling and wants to be cautious. He waited nearly two hours to get tested– but he says it was worth it.
“It's the safest way also to come back to school... It just makes you- gives you like a better feeling," said Horn. “I would rather get tested every day or whatever, just to make sure that I can go to school because it's a lot more fun. And I feel like I learn a lot more when I actually go to school.”
District officials said they made sure to get the word out about the clinic to its families.
“I was hoping we'd have a great turnout and this exceeds my expectations," said the superintendent of student support services at DSUSD, Laura Fisher. "It's really probably safer for them to be back in school than out, you know, and that we do continue to have our layers of mitigation and safeguards in the schools."
Fisher said the district will keep hosting regular testing and vaccine clinics to help keep its students safe.
“If there is an opportunity to assist with providing information or testing or masks, then we want to be able to take advantage of those opportunities," said DSUSD spokesperson Mary Perry. “We do have a number, a large number of testing kits that have been made available to us and those have been shared with school sites.”
On Dec. 22, Governor Newsom announced additional actions to protect Californians from COVID-19. As part of the announcement, he said the state will be increasing the availability of at-home COVID-19 tests across California so that K-12 public school students can be tested as they return to school from winter break. The district said the opportunities to get a test will increase as supplies are received from the state.
Testing kits are being made available to the schools. DSUSD said it will continue to monitor the California Department of Public Health guidelines.