In keeping with Sheba’s dedication to implementing technological innovations for health, a pilot rapid COVID-19 testing program will be instituted in Israeli schools to keep them open for safe learning in the midst of the pandemic.
“We must think outside the box and come up with creative, innovative solutions to enable us to maintain our routines, especially when it comes to educating our children,” said Dr. Itai Pessach, Director of the Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba Medical Center.
Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, Director of Sheba’s Infectious Diseases Unit, introduced “Live Safe – Studying Alongside the Coronavirus” at the Herzliya Gymnasia high school in Tel Aviv, on Sunday, November 8.
Dr. Regev-Yochay explains that the pilot strives to make schools COVID-free “protective bubbles,” so they are safe zones for learning. The program thereby removes some of the stress the pandemic has placed on pupils, parents, and teachers.
First, pupils and staff will be screened with a serological test to check for coronavirus antibodies. Those who do not have antibodies will then undergo rapid antigen testing on-site when arriving at the school, to check for anyone who is asymptomatic but at an early stage of the virus.
Rapid testing produces results within 15 minutes and can be carried out by the school nurse or staff. Magen David Adom volunteers and senior students at the school can also administer the test, which will be supervised by Dr. Regev-Yochay and her team.
Anyone who tests positive by the rapid screening will then be required to do a regular PCR test. In the meantime, they and the other members of their capsule will need to be quarantined. All quarantined and isolated individuals will go through a daily drive-in rapid COVID-19 test set up at the school.
Later this week, the program is due to be launched at the Bikurim youth village in the Eshkol region.
“We hope this pilot will prove itself so we can take it to all other schools and sectors,” said Dr. Pessach.Save