CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — If you’re a parent with a school aged child, you’re likely dreading any sign of sniffles or sneezing. That’s because, even if it’s just a common cold, your school will probably require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they are allowed to return to school.
But as NEWS10’s Anya Tucker found, parents are facing plenty of disparities when it comes to wait times for testing and results.
“The whole thing is very frustrating as a parent,” says Adele Young, of Guilderland.
She is describing a recent visit to urgent care to get a COVID-19 test for her 6-year-old son. But, a test that might typically take less than an hour, ended up taking hours.
“With all the other wait times, etc. It was close to five-and-a-half hours,” she says.
But at Central Ave Pharmacy in Albany, the wait was only about 20 minutes.
Winthrop Ford, who had his daughter Chastity tested after she came in contact with a schoolmate with COVID, says it just depends on the day, though.
“There’s been times when the line is down to the bus stop. And you might not be able to get tested,” he said.
Maria Droze was also one of the lucky parents to get in and out. She told NEWS10’s Anya Tucker that she felt the process was faster than at other pharmacies.
“It’s much quicker. And easier for me to bring my kids.”
So, why the disparity?
Pediatrician Dr. James Saperstone says, first, there are supply chain issues. Then, there are various protocols for returning to school.
“And even then it’s inconsistent depending on the school district,” he added. “Some schools demand PCR testing and some schools demand rapid tests.”
The longer tests are covered under most insurance plans. But if your school requires a negative rapid test, that could mean spending upwards of $100. The process is now exposing a big inequity among students, says Sarah Walton at Central Ave Pharmacy.
“If you have the money to spend on a rapid test, you can go back to school right away. If you don’t have the money, you are waiting three, five longer days,” said Walton.
Adele adds, “It seems disjointed. It seems like it should be better organized.”
Adele says that she received the results of her son’s test a few days later. It was negative. It turned out to be a cold. She says he was able to return to school, but he missed three days of in-person learning.