By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4)– Schools throughout the state of Colorado will soon be able to have COVID-19 testing done right outside their classrooms. It’s the latest effort to keep schools open and prevent the virus from spreading among children.

(credit: Getty Images)

Kids are already a common sight at COVID-19 testing stations, but more testing is needed according to the state. Riley was in the back seat of her mother’s car. She’s six and a half years old and not feeling very well.

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Her mother, Sarah Garratt explained, “She had an upset tummy this morning, she threw up a couple of times and has a low-grade fever.”

She stayed home from school and her mother took her to see if she had COVID-19.

“Everything is a symptom of COVID-19 and I am just trying to be cautious. I don’t think she has it,” Garratt said.

For those not old enough to get vaccinated, testing is especially critical. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is starting a free COVID-19 school testing program next month, beginning Sept. 7.

Like a testing station set up outside George Washington High School in Denver, each school can have testing done on-site. Parents must give their consent.

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Jessica Valle says she worries about her child’s health during the pandemic, “Definitely yes, we are concerned every day and we are trying to do everything we can to make sure they are safe.”

She has two boys, ages 12 and 11. One is eligible for the vaccinations, but one is not. Those over 12 are also eligible for the state incentives to get the vaccine including scholarships and $100 Walmart gift cards. The state says these incentives have proven effective in encouraging more people to get vaccinated.

The state is even looking at paying kids to get vaccinated but is waiting for federal approval.

And then there is the incentive that if you don’t have a negative COVID-19 test, you can’t attend events like concerts, plays or festivals.

Aarin McKeel brought her daughter to get a test, “I guess kids can be carriers and we want to attend the events and this is the only way that we can… then that’s what we have to do.”

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The antigen test will be used in this latest bid to prevent COVID-19 from shutting down the schools and transitioning students to remote learning.

Rick Sallinger