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Rapid COVID-19 Tests Could Make School Re-Openings Safer, USC Study Finds

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A new University of Southern California study has found that COVID-19 rapid tests could be the key to reopening schools more safely.

"The promise of these tests is that they can identify people who are infectious within 15 minutes," said USC Schaeffer Center Covid Initiative Director Dr. Neeraj Sood.

Sood said the study is unique in that it looked at the accuracy of COVID rapid tests, particularly in school-age children.

Researchers found the tests could detect a COVID infection based on viral load, and do it quickly.

They say if students and teachers are tested twice a week, the rapid test could be more effective in protecting schools than the traditional PCR test once a week, which takes more time.

"If you repeat the test the kid then you're going to now identify this kid as being covid positive, so these tests are really useful in environments where you can do this repeat or serial testing so that when people become infectious the tests can identify them," Sood said.

When Los Angeles Unified School District begins next week, the district will be testing everyone on campus once a week using the traditional PCR tests.

Some parents said rapid tests twice a week would not make them feel any safer.

"It really wouldn't make a difference. It's not so much the testing or the amount of testing that would reassure parents," said LAUSD parent Alberta Moore.

Moore is not sending her tenth grader back to school because she says it would be too disruptive this late in the year.

She also said it's the overall COVID case rates in the county and vaccinations that will make the difference for her family.

"Right now the whole testing and checking in every day is kind of a hassle," she said.

USC said it does not have a partnership with LAUSD at this time. LAUSD did not immediately respond to comment about using rapid tests

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