HISD families and staff line up for free COVID-19 testing

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With the return to school after holiday break starting, long lines form as HISD provides free COVID-19 testing for students and staff.

The demand for COVID-19 testing has spiked dramatically during the holiday break and that has remained the case as families are looking ahead to students returning back to school this week.

Last week, the Houston Health Department stated at least one of its affiliated COVID-19 testing sites reached capacity every day.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services online dashboard, as of Dec. 30, Harris County has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in the state.

Toni Middleton is an HISD parent who was waiting in line at one of the HISD testing locations on Sunday. Middleton said she was grateful that she recognized the early signs and got her family tested ahead of the holiday. Her son ended up testing positive for COVID-19 and they spent the holidays in quarantine.

"If the other kids are getting sick they are going to pass it on to the people at home," Middleton said. "That was our thing about him getting tested before Christmas. Had we ignored the symptoms, it would have been like everybody, my mother would have been infected. My nephew, my cousins, they would have been infected and that's how things continue to spread."

Houston ISD announced on Sunday, a system-wide outage delay testing until 2pm at Worthing Early College High School and Bellaire High School. Parents of students and HISD staff had to pre-register before hopping in line.

Corina Olguin, an educator, said out of precaution she wanted to get a COVID-19 test before the start of school.

"I think with just the news and just the numbers rising," Olguin. "We've had a lot of family members and friends who have gotten sick in the last couple of days so we're just like, the circle is getting closer. I think it's good that the city and the district are trying to do their part to make sure that we stay safe."

Katy ISD has also offered free COVID-19 testing for students and staff. The district announced due to the surge of COVID-19 cases, it will be opening under "Stage 3 'Modified Operations'" when teachers return on Monday and for students return on Tuesday, this week.

The Houston Health Department-operated sites will re-open on Monday and Mayor Sylvester Turner announced on Friday, the health department plans to open two more mega testing sites next week.

For Houston Health Department's multi-service testing sites, appointments are preferred by signing up online or call 832-393-4220. These are drive-thru sites and do not accept clients on foot.
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