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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma City charter school has become the first in the state to enroll in a free federal COVID-19 testing program.

Operation Expanded Testing is a $650 million initiative by the Biden Administration and Department of Health and Human Services.

It’s designed to give schools as well as community organizations the option of free surveillance PCR testing.
It’s already helping this school catch cases before the virus spreads.

Sasha Long has a way of making the students at KIPP OKC College Prep In Oklahoma City feel comfortable, even in what can be an uncomfortable situation.

“It’s not a brain-tickler, we’re not going up there and trying to dig people’s brains out,” she said. 

After all, they should be comfortable with her. Not only is Long the school nurse, she’s also the librarian and office assistant.

“I don’t get much sit-down time around here,” Long said. 

Now, every two weeks, she’s giving PCR COVID-19 tests to about 85 students, or “scholars” as they call them at KIPP.

This testing, funded by the federal program Operation Expanded Testing, Long says is a game-changer.

“The testing is definitely helping us stay ahead of the spread because we were just able to catch a couple of positive test results,” said Long. 

The testing is voluntary. Parents and guardians were given information ahead of time and filled out permission forms.

She says the high number of volunteers also help students feel more comfortable.

“The kids are doing great with it and a lot of them say it tickles, I don’t have to deal with a lot of, ‘It hurts, I’m scared, I don’t want to,'” Long said. 

Long says even though everyone at KIPP is masked up, this still helps bring a piece of mind as they work to keep school in-person and safe.

“We are trying to make sure we do right by our students and our community and stay ahead of the spread as much as we possibly can,” she said. 

Long says test results usually take 24-48 hours to get back.