Montgomery County Schools Offer Random COVID Testing

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Montgomery County Public Schools is giving a new kind of school exam: random COVID-19 testing.

The school system said it's offering the tests to children who are too young to receive the vaccine.

The school system said each week it will test 10% of students who "opted in" to get the PCR tests, which take up to two days for results.

"I think it’s just kind of common sense that you would want to know if kids have COVID and, obviously, if they do, that they should stay home," said father Brendan Smith, who signed his son up for the tests.

News4's Aimee Cho spoke with one mom who was frustrated that her daughter was told to quarantine after another student had a COVID-19 symptom, but didn't actually test positive for the virus. County leaders say they hope a new testing program will help reduce the number of students in quarantine.

However, Margery Smelkinson says she chose not to sign her four children up for random testing.

Smelkinson said one of her sons had to quarantine when a classmate had a headache.


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"It’s a very, very extreme, unnecessary policy that I think is going to have a lot of kids unnecessarily put into quarantine," she said.

Montgomery County Public Schools has a stricter quarantine policy than most school districts. Schools must send students home after close contact with someone showing a COVID symptom, not just a confirmed case.

In the first week of school, about 1,000 children had to quarantine.

That's why mom Nikki Posnack says, she also opted out of random tests for her two children.

"I don’t trust Montgomery County Public Schools, to be quite honest, at this point.
And I’d like to see what the random testing is going to be used for," Posnack said.

The school system says only about 29% of students have opted in so far.

"It's more effective the more people that opt in. I know that the school system is working on a drive to encourage parents to opt into the testing at this point," Director of Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Raymond Crowel said.

The school system is also working on a separate rapid COVID testing opt in system.

Rapid tests would only be done on students showing symptoms. That program is set to start by the end of the week.

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