Dripping Springs ISD Trustee Dr. Stefanie Reinold redirects compensation plan discussion to disseminate COVID-19 misinformation
Dripping Springs Independent School District Trustee Dr. Stefanie Reinold redirected a compensation plan discussion to disseminate COVID-19 misinformation about false-positive COVID-19 tests, at an agenda review meeting Jan. 24.
During an important discussion about a possible increase in substitute pay as the district faces a shortage due to increasing COVID-19 cases, Reinold asked to review what the Texas Education Agency mandates were for COVID-19 testing for staff, specifically when in close contact with a confirmed positive case.
Dripping Springs ISD Superintendent Dr. Holly Morris-Kuentz said there is still a close contact testing requirement for staff.
Reinold then asked if a staff member would be tested, after returning from the five-day isolation period requirement after having COVID-19.
“If you’re a close contact, regardless if you just came back from having COVID, you’re still needing to test, or are there any further stipulations or guidance on that piece from TEA?” Reinold said.
Morris-Kuentz explained that staff who are 90 days out from having COVID-19 do not have to test if they are a close contact, unless they are symptomatic.
At this, Reinold laughed.
“I’m sorry, I’m laughing because, have you seen the symptoms list?” Reinold said. “It’s incredibly vague, and in the middle of Cedar Fever. OK, so really that 90 days means nothing then.”
Reinold laughed even louder before she continued, “because pretty much we all live with at least one of those symptoms every day.”
“I’m just pointing this out because we know that the testing is not 100% perfect,” Reinold said. “[If] someone gets a positive test, it doesn’t necessarily mean a case of COVID.”
According to PolitiFact, a previously debunked claim about false-positive COVID-19 tests is circulating again, spreading misinformation. The claim said “the CDC was withdrawing its PCR test for COVID-19 because the test didn’t differentiate the coronavirus and the flu,” Politifact reported.
PolitiFact explained that the CDC withdrew those tests because they only tested for COVID-19, and they wanted to use “newer FDA-authorized tests that could already detect the flu as well as COVID-19, in order to save time.”
The CDC said “the presence of influenza viral genetic material within a specimen will not cause a false positive result,” PolitiFact reported.
After disseminating misinformation, Reinold continued on her soapbox, saying she hopes at some point TEA will update some of their guidance on COVID-19 testing, “so that it is a little bit more reasonable.”
Dripping Springs ISD Executive Director of Human Resource Services Tiffany Duncan explained the most recent guidelines from TEA.
“The addition to TEA’s rules have stated that if you’re ages 18 or older and you’ve received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary shots for immunocompromised folks, or if you were confirmed COVID-19 positive within the last 90 days and have fully recovered, then you are not required to then test with a close contact,” Duncan said.
“But also if you’re symptomatic,” Reinold responded. “The list of symptoms is incredibly vague, so I’m sure a lot of people are testing because they’re honest. If you have a sniffy nose, that’s still a symptom, even if it’s from allergies or from something else completely unrelated.”
“I just want to shed light that this is a problem, I think, but I realize I’m in the minority here, so I will stop talking,” Reinold said.
Duncan said Dripping Springs ISD’s protocols for COVID-19 testing for staff were updated Jan. 10 to align with TEA’s updated vaccination status guidelines, and that monitoring for symptoms among staff and testing those who are symptomatic is universal.
Read the PolitiFact article here: https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/jan/03/instagram-posts/cdc-didnt-say-its-covid-19-tests-cant-differentiat/