More San Antonio Independent School District students and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks than during the last six months of 2021, Toni Thompson, associate superintendent for human resources, said at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

In the past two weeks, 3,421 students and staff members tested positive for COVID-19, with most of those results coming from campus-based testing SAISD conducts in partnership with the local nonprofit Community Labs, Thompson said. From July to December, 3,067 students and staff members tested positive.

The January positive test numbers likely are an undercount, Thompson said. The district recorded just 149 positive test results from outside test sites for the first week of January. It documented 725 outside test results from July to December. In addition, SAISD is still waiting for results from its new testing partner, Accu Reference, which began testing last week at the Alamo Convocation Center.

SAISD’s positivity rate also skyrocketed in the past week, up to 22% from less than 1% the week of Dec. 11. The last time the district recorded a positivity rate above 1% was the first week of October, Thompson said.

Bexar County’s positivity rate reached 38.3% Tuesday, according to San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District. The county recorded 5,413 new cases and a seven-day rolling average of 6,140.

SAISD conducts weekly testing of students and staff members who want to be tested through Community Labs. The testing volume has significantly increased since the extremely contagious omicron variant began driving up case counts and hospitalizations in Bexar County, which has caused a backlog of tests that need to be processed.

Because of the backlog, SAISD will have to pause its weekly testing at campuses so Community Labs can process all the tests it currently has, Thompson said. The nonprofit will resume testing of SAISD students and staff next week, once the backlog has eased.

“They’ve been a tremendous partner,” she said. “They’re certainly concerned and apologetic, but hopefully this will make it easier for them to catch up and get their footing back.”

Typically, Community Labs is able to process test results within 24 to 48 hours, but the increase in testing has delayed some results up to four days, Thompson said.

The district will notify families and staff members of the suspension of weekly testing and when it will resume.

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Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum covered education for the San Antonio Report.