San Antonio nonprofit lab giving San Marcos CISD weekly testing

Kevin Baxter | Staff Reporter

SAN MARCOS – On October 25, 2021, Community Labs, a nonprofit laboratory from San Antonio dedicated to assisting the public with COVID-19 testing, announced that they are partnering with San Marcos CISD to give the schools weekly testing.

This will be the first time Community Labs has served schools outside of Bexar County.

Community labs provide 24-hour test results from their specialized lab, local to San Antonio. According to Community Labs, the tests used are less invasive than other forms of testing. They only swab the front of the nostril instead of the deep nostril swabbing some other labs use.

“Community Labs currently provides weekly COVID-19 screenings at more than 350 campuses at 11 Bexar County school districts. It has added weekly screenings at 23 Laredo ISD campuses and 13 in the San Marcos CISD,” according to their press release. “Its recent implementation of pooling test samples has allowed the lab to increase its capacity to process up to 50,000 samples a day.”

The increase in capacity to process samples and the speed at which they can get the results back to the schools will help Community Labs keep students in class.

“We were founded to help school districts safely return children to the classroom, where they learn more effectively. Thanks to our increased lab capacity, we can now provide this service to school districts beyond Bexar County and still deliver results within 24 hours. Laredo and San Marcos are our first, and we’re eager to offer this service to other Texas school districts,” said Sal Webber, President of Community Labs. “Our data shows a very low positivity rate – less than 0.4% — on the campuses that implement assurance testing with us.”

San Marcos CISD Superintendent Michael Cardona was also excited to begin testing, allowing the schools to bring students back into the classroom.

“We were eager to begin assurance testing on our campuses,” said Cardona. “Children need to be in the classroom. It’s where and how they learn best. Our partnership with Community Labs is all about increasing the health and safety of our students and staff so they can concentrate on their education.”

San Marcos CISD has taken the pandemic seriously and implemented mask mandates even after Texas Governor Greg Abbot sign Executive Order GA-38, banning local government entities from requiring individuals to wear face coverings.

SMCISD also has a COVID-19 dashboard tracking the number of cases in students and staff. The page records the total number of cases on a week-by-week basis and reports the total amount of cases that the district has seen.

Community labs intend to service area schools, businesses, and local groups. All of which are referred to as ‘Micro-populations’ on their site. They aim to conduct bi-weekly assurance testing for the micro-populations they serve.

Their mission page states, “By testing whole Micro-Populations—the previously undetected ‘Silent Spreaders’ can be immediately identified and quarantined for the first time—burning out the virus and turning each school, business and group into a safety zone for normal operations.”

Community Labs use the same accelerated pandemic suppression system as Harvard and MIT scientists, linking to the Broad Institute’s page on how they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Community Labs, “The system runs entirely on off-the-shelf tools and technology, requiring no new medical breakthroughs until effective vaccines can be found.”

The founders of community labs, Richey Wyatt, Graham Weston, J Bruce Bugg JR, J Tullos Wells, posted a video describing the origin and goal of the group.

Community Labs provides screenings at no cost to the school districts. The fee of $35 per test, approximately one-third of the market rate for commercial COVID-19 PCR tests, is covered through the State of Texas’ allocation of the federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) funding. 

Any Texas school or school district interested in learning more about Community Labs and its assurance testing program for COVID-19 may contact program@communitylabs.org.

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One Comment

  1. I have to laugh when the author states that CISD has taken the pandemic so seriously that they mandated mask wearing. If the district is so serious about this pandemic they would take a look at research on masks. Seriously? The district is virtue signaling by mandating the mask. So far there is only one serious study. It is from Bangladesh. The cloth mask was proven to offer absolutely no protection and “surgical” masks provide about an 11% protection rate. But who am I to argue. Even Stanford medical doctors are saying that there is not enough proof that masks work. Oh well, carry on and continue to look stupid.

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