Paterson opens 12 COVID-19 testing sites ahead of return to in-person schooling

Paterson school students and staff will return to in-person learning in one week. And to ensure a safe return, the district is providing COVID-19 testing.
There are 12 sites in the city, mostly at schools. Among them are International High School, New Roberto Clemente School and the Paterson Board of Education building. The sites will be open for the next five days.
Ivannis Diaz has two children in Paterson schools. She says that she is not completely sold on the idea of sending her kids back considering the surge in cases of the virus.
“These kids nowadays don’t really know how to keep their masks on,” says Diaz.
The New Jersey Department of Health reported 21,483 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, along with 6,036 hospitalizations and 142 confirmed deaths.
“I’m afraid of my kids getting COVID. [My son] is asthmatic, I don’t want them to get COVID at all,” Diaz says.
This is why the district is offering COVID testing before schools reopen.
“In order to come back, we want to be part of trying to stop the spread. In order to do that, you need to have folks get tested,” says Superintendent Eileen Shafer.
Shafer says she didn’t want students and staffers to have to wait three hours for a test at a random pharmacy. She says this way is more convenient.
“You know where it is, you know the school, you know where to park. And we’re letting everyone out at 1:45 p.m.,” she says.
Paterson students haven’t had in-person instruction since Dec. 23 when schools closed for the holiday break. Classes have been virtual since Jan. 4.
The district also had major issues with staffing. There were 600-700 absences and officials did not want to run into that kind of staffing shortage again.
Officials say that 86% of school staffers are vaccinated.
Students who get a test do not need to be with their parents. They only need to fill out a consent form.