Students don’t trust MCPS rapid testing, cite false results as concern

Students+experiencing+Covid+symptoms+should+go+to+the+health+room+where+they+can+get+a+rapid+test.

Photo by Jake Dolan

Students experiencing Covid symptoms should go to the health room where they can get a rapid test.

As the school year rages on, so does Covid-19. In an effort to prevent active Covid cases in school, MCPS has begun rapid testing. All schools in MCPS will now use rapid tests when a student is demonstrating symptoms of Covid-19. In order to participate in the rapid testing program, students will need parental consent.

Rapid test results are available in  15-20 minutes post administration, a far cry from the 24-48 hours students may have to wait for a PCR test. However, rapid tests are considered not as reliable as PCR tests and can give false results, leaving students with doubts in their mind about how effective the program will be.

Rapid testing will lead to many false results. I’ve had friends test negative, but then test positive later. With many students in MCPS, how do we know that there won’t be a bunch of false negatives walking around the schools.”

— Kennith Lin

Sophomore Kennith Lin said the rapid testing by MCPS is a bad idea since it’s unreliable. He also said that he doesn’t find it useful at all as it doesn’t guarantee the safety of anyone due to the test’s inconsistent results. “Rapid testing will lead to many false results. I’ve had friends test negative, but then test positive later. With many students in MCPS, how do we know that there won’t be a bunch of false negatives walking around the schools,” Lin said.

Senior Nideesh Shanmugam Bhuvaneswari feels as if rapid testing is only going to be useful to a certain extent, citing the quick results as one of the only upsides. Overall, Shanmugam Bhuvaneswari agrees with Lin that rapid testing is unreliable. “Rapid testing is not a good idea, if students are getting it [Covid] and going to schools with high populations, they should be getting a more accurate test. Otherwise they will get false results and proceed to spread the virus to their peers,” Shanmugam Bhuvaneswari said.

Much like the others, junior Souvik Kar agrees that rapid testing is a bad idea and will fail to be useful.“Rapid testing by MCPS could result in a lot of false positives,” Kar said.

Students report mixed feelings about using the rapid tests.. Lin who earlier on said rapid testing was a bad idea, isn’t opposed to taking it if he had symptoms of Covid. “I would take it just because it doesn’t harm me, no point in not taking it if given the option. I wouldn’t trust the results though,” Lin said. 

Shanmugam Bhuvaneswari takes a different approach.“I wouldn’t take a rapid test if offered, instead I would get a PCR test and quarantine while waiting for results,” Shanmugam Bhuvaneswari said. 

Kar just like Shanmugam Bhuvaneswari wouldn’t take a rapid test if offered. “I would never take a rapid test because I don’t trust the results of it compared to a normal test,” Kar said.