MDUSD provides thousands of rapid result test kits ahead of return to schools

MDUSD provides thousands of rapid result test kits ahead of return to schools

MDUSD provides thousands of rapid result test kits ahead of return to schools
MDUSD Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark and education specialist Wendy Aghily hand out quick response Covid-19 tests to parents during a drive-through distribution Jan. 4 in the district’s efforts to keep students healthy. Like many local and nationwide schools, the district is encouraging students to self-test for Covid-19 as positive cases and hospitalizations surge with winter and the Omicron variant. (Karen Jenkins photo)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Jan. 6, 2022) — Students had optional but strongly encouraged homework to complete by the end of their winter break: take a Covid-19 test — or two — before returning to school.

School officials in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, which has some 29,000 students in 50 schools throughout Concord, Clayton, Pleasant Hill, parts of Walnut Creek and Martinez, urged staff and students to take two tests one and three days before their return to area schools Jan. 5. District officials disbursed thousands of rapid-response test kits to the schools before classes let out Dec. 17 and obtained more to hand out during the school break.

The district’s plan came in response to a nationwide surge in positive cases and hospitalizations and as education and health officials are scrambling to navigate the return to school for elementary through college students after winter break. California ordered 6 million rapid result test kits for students in public kindergarten through high schools.

Concord resident Paula Dillon requested kits from her children’s schools before the winter break after their principals sent notification that they were available.

“We just finished the second test and they are both negative,” said Dillon, whose sixth grade daughter attends Pine Hollow Middle School and whose son is a fourth grader at Ayers Elementary, on Jan. 4. She is a teacher in the district at Northgate High School.

A drive-through pick-up site outside the district offices on Jan. 4 in Concord also provided families with an opportunity to get test kits before school resumed. Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark helped distribute the kits as a steady stream of cars snaked down Carlotta Drive between the district offices and Monte Gardens Elementary School in response to emailed messages about the distribution.

Back to school

“Fingers crossed – we want to get our kids back to school,” said Clark to parents as he handed over test kit boxes for several hours along with district staff on the day before classes were set to resume.

Clayton resident Julie Avery’s family took advantage of the distribution. “My husband just picked up some rapid tests from the school district this afternoon,” said Avery, a junior kindergarten teacher who has a daughter at Mt. Diablo Elementary in Clayton and a son at Ayers Elementary in Concord. “He said it was very easy and well organized! Before that, we did have to find some on our own so we could visit with my parents at Christmas.”

Throughout the state and nation, some school districts and universities are returning to online instruction for a short or longer period of time. The Mt. Diablo District has not indicated this will happen. In a Jan. 3 email message to families, Clark stated that as the district has “throughout the pandemic, MDUSD will continue to follow guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) in order to make decisions that support the health and safety of our students, families and staff.”

Karen Jenkins
Karen Jenkins
Correspondent |

Karen Jenkins is pleased to be a correspondent with the Concord Clayton Pioneer News. She has worked as a community journalist on and off for three decades at publications including the Contra Costa Sun in Lamorinda; the Antioch Daily Ledger; the Avon-Beaver Creek Times in Colorado; Roll Call in Washington, D.C. and the Daily Nexus at UC-Santa Barbara. She is also the student advisor for The Sentinel, the student newspaper at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. She may be reached at