Bulgaria: Mass Covid Testing in Schools, Pros and Cons

Health | February 11, 2021, Thursday // 12:18|  views

“When it comes to testing children we first consult with the parents who are our main and most important partner. To see what their attitudes are in general in terms of whether it makes sense to test children with antigen tests", Greta Gancheva, Director of the "Inclusive Education" Directorate with the Ministry of Education told Nova TV.

More than 20% of parents filled out our yesterday's questionnaire answering if they agreed that their children should be tested with a rapid antigen test. Half of them gave consent, the other half didn't. At the moment we cannot take an adequate decision on whether to take action", reported Gancheva. In her words, parents can find additional information on the "Teachers BG" Facebook page.

She clarified that at least 70% of the children in the class need to be tested to assess the real situation. Those who test positive for antibodies to the coronavirus will temporarily study remotely.

 "Testing will be carried out among school students from 1st to 12th grade, at this stage no rapid antigen testing is envisioned for children in kindergartens. It will not be mandatory, but voluntarily and with the consent of the parents", added Gancheva.

Parents will be personally informed of each student's results.

However, due to insufficient support from parents "there is currently no point in making antibody tests, as the number of tested children will be insufficient to give an accurate assessment," explained Gancheva.

In many schools across the country, surveys were conducted on parents' attitudes about the possibility of making rapid antigen tests among schoolchildren. And the opinions of parents were completely opposing.

'I did not agree my child to be tested because I didn't have any time to make an informed decision. I did not get information about how these tests will be taken, how the data will be used and what will happen with a possible positive test of my child," said Maya Tsaneva, who is the mother of a first-grader.

She found out about the testing Monday morning from the Viber group of parents of the children in the class.

 "Antigen tests would help address the problem. But they need to be carried out regularly and weekly in order for infected children to be removed from healthy ones in a timely manner.

 "Testing in schools is a voluntary act. If a parent wants to get information, they can ask any question. If they do not want to, they mark "no" in the declaration, full stop. There will be no untoward consequences either for parents or the student." That's what State Chief Health Inspector Assoc. Prof. Angel Kunchev said today at a regular briefing on the epidemiological situation in Bulgaria.

Kunchev also answered some technical questions of parents.

"Testing is made by the person who is authorized to make it – that is, the nurse or the doctor at the school. If there is none, it is made by an external team of qualified specialists who know very well how to reach into the nose of a child", Kunchev pointed out. "The testing method is invasive. Yes, it's not pleasant, but it's not something that can lead to health risk,' he assured.

In his words, currently, it is not necessary to test students for antibodies.

"The idea is to have real benefit from this research and I say again – the decision is entirely up to the parents", Kunchev stressed.

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Tags: school


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