LAUSD launches COVID-19 testing and tracking program with Health Net and others
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal for many aspects of life in Los Angeles, including education. Families throughout LA are now counting on electronic devices and internet connections to learn virtually.
But the Los Angeles Unified School District's COVID-19 contact and tracing program aims to bring school back to the classroom more safely. Health Net is collaborating with scientists, healthcare companies and LA Unified on this innovative program. As part of this plan, research will commence to study the impact and effects of reopening and this data will be available to the general public.
This initiative's goals are:
- Providing school staff, students and their families with regular COVID-19 testing and contact tracing to make informed decisions.
- Initial testing of staff at schools.
- The next phase will involve testing to all staff and students when they start to return to the classroom. Currently, the spread of COVID-19 in the Los Angeles area still far exceeds guidelines from the State of California governing the possible return of students to school campuses. Any decision about the return of students to schools is some time away.
Health Net will dedicate resources in four areas to help ensure the initiative is successful:
- Financial support for a portion of testing-related costs
- Work with the District to ensure enrollment of eligible families into Medi-Cal or Covered California
- Coordinate routing of claims for students and staff with existing health coverage
- Explore how to share de-identified information about the health impact of the virus
"The safe and quick return of our students, teachers and staff to school is a high priority," said Brian Ternan, Health Net's President and CEO, CA Market. "I'm the father of school-age children and the leader of a company that employs thousands of parents. I know the daily challenges that our families and children face. My teenager misses her classmates and teachers. I'm sure many LA Unified students feel the same way."
All hands are on deck for this program. Partners include Health Net, Microsoft, UCLA, the Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Clinical Reference Laboratory, SummerBio, and Anthem Blue Cross. Microsoft is providing an application – powered by Microsoft Azure and the Power Platform – that will enable school administrators and health officials to track insights into trends and potential risks to help manage COVID-19 exposures and cases. The Clinical Reference Laboratory and SummerBio will provide lower-cost testing kits.
The knowledge gained from this testing and tracing initiative will:
- Provide immediate findings to district staff, relevant government agencies and policy makers.
- Support decisions pertaining to opening schools and keeping schools open.
- Help protect the health and safety of the entire community should a COVID-19 outbreak occur.
Experts agree that children learn better in a classroom with a teacher. The dynamic energy that builds in a classroom fosters interaction. Health Net is proud to be a part of this extraordinary program. It has the potential to help everyone right now.