Teachers take the test

Castlemaine health services combined forces last week to undertake a mass COVID-19 screening of teachers and school staff from across Mount Alexander Shire.
The state government introduced a voluntary testing scheme offering all Victorian public, independent and private school staff who were asymptotic the opportunity to be tested between May 13 and May 31.
Castlemaine Secondary College principal Paul Frye made contact with Castlemaine Health and CHIRP Community Health to see if they could offer the testing and the two organisations quickly collaborated to transform CHIRP’s gymnasium into a pop-up screening clinic.
All school staff in the shire were given the chance to take part in the voluntary testing opportunity over two days of screening.
On last Monday’s state-wide Public Free Day the clinic screened 80 local school staff, with a further 20 taking up the opportunity to be screened at a second session on Friday.
The latest testing follows mass testing of more than 200 staff at Castlemaine Health and the extensive testing of staff at local smallgoods manufacturer DON KR Castlemaine.
Castlemaine Health director of nursing clinical care Mark Nally said to date all tests had returned a negative result.
“We still have a few tests to come in but so far the results are all clear.”
He thanked CHIRP Community Health nurse Bronwyn Grieve for her work coordinating the latest screening clinics to allow time between schools for social distancing and to avoid any potential transmission between cohorts.
“The screenings ran very smoothly and school staff were in and out in about 15 minutes,” Mr Nally said.
He also thanked Castlemaine Health registered nurse Erica Cocks for her painstaking efforts to undertake the mass testing.
“Erica has made herself available between night shifts and day shifts to assist us to make the testing possible and help us keep our community safe and we really appreciate her efforts,” Mr Nally said.
CHIRP’s Bronwyn Grieve said there was a very small chance that people could have COVID-19 but not display symptoms.
“People who are COVID-19 positive and do not display symptoms can pass the virus to others,” she said.
“The pop up clinic provided teachers an opportunity to get tested before the school term resumed. They were grateful for the quick and easy service we provided.”
The testing will also support DHHS investigations into how widespread COVID-19 is and contribute to the mass screening goal to gain a better picture of COVID-19 in the community.
“We thank all those who bravely volunteered for testing. There were a few nerves. However, it helps us to get a better understanding of how widespread COVID-19 is and how it’s transmitted in the community,” Mr Nally said.
All staff screened should have their results within a week, before the remainder of students return to Victorian schools on June 9.

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