Nonprofit providing COVID testing services at schools keeping close eye on Omicron COVID-19 variant

Community Labs testing at 11 school districts in Bexar County

SAN ANTONIO – As concerns mounts about the COVID-19 variant omicron, Community Labs, a nonprofit providing testing services in our community, is keeping an eye on the new strain.

“We’ve confirmed that our test can detect the new variant,” said Sal Webber, president of Community Labs.

Community Labs has partnered with 11 school districts in Bexar County. At San Antonio ISD, they test 20,000 students and staff a week.

“The week before Thanksgiving, we had zero positives for all of SAISD. This week so far, we’ve already seen 40 positives. And so, that matches a pattern that we’ve seen around Thanksgiving, last year, Christmas and New Year’s the year before. We saw another peak after the big freeze in February last year. So, every time people are indoors together, we see positivity rate go up,” Webber said.

Community Labs conducts weekly PCR tests at local school districts.

“We’ve improved our processes. We are averaging a turnaround time of 10 and a half hours in this last week. And so, getting that data back to students and parents and teachers as quickly as possible has been has been our mission from the beginning,” Webber said.

Webber said testing is critical to keep cases down in schools, especially with the threat of the new variant.

“What we’ve heard so far is that this new variant is more transmissible, but the symptoms seem to be milder. So that’s good. I still think you don’t want to catch it. And so that’s why I think parents and teachers and administrators are still trusting us to come in and test,” Webber said.

About the Author

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

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