Parents scramble to get COVID tests for kids ahead of return to school

Even as San Francisco public schools reopened Monday after the holiday break, some families were lined up at a mobile testing site at district headquarters so their children could get tested for COVID.

"I still just want to be safe. And make sure we don't spread it to other kids through my child," said parent Michael Mar.

The district's mobile testing site is one of three in the city open through Sunday.

While the numbers of those tested were not available Monday afternoon, San Francisco Unified School District said about 1,000 people were tested Sunday.

San Francisco is still waiting for rapid at-home test kits to arrive from the state, which is sending millions of kits to all school districts in California.

Oakland Unified school officials said they distributed 41,000 at-home kits before the break.

"It isn't foolproof. It may not catch every single case. There will be kids who test negative that is positive the next day. But we need it to be in school," said parent Megan Bacigalupi.

But one special education teacher from Grass Valley Elementary said there was a big problem.

"The problem is none of my students received it. They should have given it to the classroom teachers to give to students," said teacher Darlene Walters.

District spokesman John Sasaki said, "I do know a couple of schools where they did have some hiccups and maybe didn't get to everyone. We are making sure to get them out to everyone this week."

"It shouldn't be different from school to school. And that is what we would like to work with the district on," said Sarah Goudy, a teacher and member of the Oakland Education Association's safety bargaining team.

Families were also lined at a PCR testing site in San Jose on Monday. Classes there don't resume until Tuesday.

At-home kits have gone out throughout the district.

"We visited with family or the holidays and we tested at home before we visited. But we also know the PCR tests are more reliable," said parent Kevin Armstrong.

None of the three school districts had any numbers on how many students have been tested.

The districts stress that the tests, while highly recommended, are strictly voluntary.