Fresno County prepares to distribute thousands of at-home COVID-19 testing kits to students

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The wait is over. Thousands of at-home COVID-19 testing kits are on their way to students across California.

On Tuesday, school and health officials in Fresno County said they are expecting to distribute kits over the next two weeks for every K-12 public school student.

Amid the Omicron surge and the post-holiday season, there are long lines to get tested for COVID-19.

More than 200,000 students throughout Fresno County will return to school after winter break, leaving many parents wondering how to get a test for their child.

"For a lot of parents, it's been extremely hard to get ahold of a home test kit. Now, you'll have one," said Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino.

Last month Gov. Gavin Newsom promised at-home testing kits would be available to every public school student as they head back to class.

More than 50,000 students have already returned, including Clovis Unified on Tuesday.

Superintendent Yovino says the tests are not mandatory but highly encouraged.

Yovino calls it an added layer of protection.

"In Fresno County, we've been able to keep our children in seats, and we are going to continue to do that, and we can only really do that by two ways: testing or vaccination," he said.

As of Monday, Fresno County had at least twenty cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Fresno County public health consultant Dr. John Zweifler worries that amount will grow as school resumes.

"We are concerned because it's a respiratory virus, and schools are inherently higher risk because they are crowded and indoors. However, it's so important for our kids to be in school for their emotional well-being, their psychological well being as well as their academic progress," said Zweifler.

Dr. Zweifler says tests are helpful, but COVID-19 vaccines are safe and the most effective way to protect you and your family.

It is also cold and flu season, and many symptoms of COVID-19 are similar.

"If your child is sick, make sure they stay at home if they have a cold, or a cough, or sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diahhrea, fever...it is so important that you keep your child home," Zweifler said.

Parents and students are encouraged to contact their district for details on test distribution.

Walk-up or drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites remain available.

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