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Pediatrician encourages parents to utilize Blue Ridge Health District’s PCR testing for symptomatic children

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 12:07 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - If you’ve been struggling to find a COVID test for your kid, you are not alone. Many families have been scrambling to find PCR tests in order to keep their children in school and out of quarantine.

If a child is experiencing symptoms, they could end up out of class for days, even if it’s not COVID. That’s because many families in the area are having trouble finding where to get a test, and one with a quick turn around time.

“The first important thing for families to know is that all schools accept only the PCR to return to school,” Pediatrician with Pediatric Associates Dr. Paige Perriello said.

That means you have to be cautious and pay attention to the type of test your child takes.

“MedExpress will not always do a PCR test,” Perriello said. “Sometimes they do a rapid and families don’t understand that that’s not going to be accepted by the school.”

Often times, rapid tests are not accepted due to the high risk of unvaccinated students being around each other.

“It doesn’t mean that there’s not a good use for rapid tests in the community,” Perriello said. “But in terms of getting kids back to school, and symptomatic kids, we would miss three out of 10 infections. And as a community, we have decided that that is not an acceptable risk for sending kids back.”

All of this has led to a scramble to find PCR rests for kids in the area.

“It’s so frustrating to families, to schools and to pediatricians that we have kids who are having extra days out for testing,” Dr. Perriello said.

The Blue Ridge Health district offers solutions to these problems.

“There is PCR testing, free drive up testing five days a week, Monday through Friday through the health department,” Perriello said. “Those tests have anywhere from a one to three day turnaround time, depending on the day of the week, and who is running the test.”

The location changes every day, but no appointment is needed.

“If it’s a negative test, the child isn’t being quarantined,” Phil Giaramita with Albemarle County Public Schools said. “So with a negative test, they can come back. And of course, if it’s a positive test, then they then they have to isolate at home for 10 days.”

That is the case if a child is experiencing symptoms. If a child has been exposed, they have to quarantine no matter what.

“We did require initially 10 days with a negative test,” Giaramita said. “ But now we’re just simply required, requiring 10 days without the need to test.”

Dr. Paige Perriello says BRHD has not turned people away from the drive up tests in a long time. They have supply available. You can also call your pediatrician and schedule a test there.

You can find a list of where BRHD will be testing each day at COVID-19 BRHD Testing Sites – Blue Ridge (virginia.gov)

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