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Portland Public Schools asks for patience during rollout of weekly COVID-19 testing program

A Portland Public Schools official said 32 schools have asked for help from the district to enroll in the program to test asymptomatic students every week.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Public Schools (PPS) is in the process of rolling out a weekly COVID-19 testing program for students, and district officials are asking for patience.

Brenda Martinek, chief of student support services for PPS, said they're moving as fast as they can to ensure kids and families get the opportunity to enroll in the testing program. The district's first school to participate in the program was Whitman Elementary last Friday.

"We have a number of schools this week that will be starting as well, so we're very excited,” said Martinek.

But in a district with nearly 50,000 students and more than 80 schools, Martinek is asking parents for patience as they work to get the program fully up and running.

RELATED: Oregon's weekly COVID-19 testing program for students off to a slow start

“Some of our schools just lack some of the staff power to be able to put in the data, get the forms out to students. So we reached out to schools and we have asked them for what support they need in regards to data entry, the distribution of the test kits, the collection of the test kits,” Martinek said.

She said district office staff and administrators have had to step out of their usual roles and spend part of the day helping 32 schools that told the district they needed help.

"We are working as hard as we can and as fast as we can to make sure that the process is smooth, it goes successfully. We have some schools that just needed a little bit more support, so we're really asking families for a little bit of patience and we will get to their school as quickly as possible.”

Martinek said this week the program will be rolling out to middle and high school students.

So far, more than 5,000 students have been signed up with over 50 schools now enrolled in the weekly COVID-19 testing program.

RELATED: At least 3 US airlines so far now require employee vaccinations

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