3 things to know about COVID-19 testing for students and school employees

Did you know there are more than 50 COVID-19 testing sites up and running in Orange County, and that educators can get tested for free, even if they’re asymptomatic?

As a number of schools across Orange County finalize their plans to welcome back students, we recently checked in with the Orange County Health Care Agency for a quick rundown of what staff, students and families should know about testing for the virus that causes COVID-19. Here’s what we learned.

1. Any student, teacher or staff member with COVID-19 symptoms should get tested.

Health care worker at COVID-19 testing siteNot everyone exhibits or feels common COVID-19 symptoms. For those who do, the symptoms usually show up two to 14 days after they’ve been exposed.

Common symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Other less common symptoms can include fatigue (feeling tired), muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

If you suspect you have symptoms, contact your doctor or health care provider to arrange for evaluation and testing.

2. Those who have symptoms and can’t get a test through a doctor — or who don’t have health insurance — can still get tested at no cost.

Again, there are more than 50 COVID-19 testing sites available in cities throughout Orange County, including two drive-through “Super Sites” at the OC Fair & Event Center and the Anaheim Convention Center. Chances are you’ll be able to find a site convenient to you.

Appointments are typically required through the testing site you choose to visit. You can find out which sites are closest to you by calling 800-564-8448.

Results are generally available within a couple days depending on the number of tests the lab is processing. As you wait for your results, make sure to take precautions that will protect others.

3. Because teachers are considered essential workers, they can be tested free — even without symptoms.

COVID-19 testing site

There are a few ways for teachers to get tested.

Educators can make an appointment to visit the drive-through Super Sites at the OC Fair & Event Center and the Anaheim Convention Center. These locations generally have same-day and next-day appointments available.

Three California OptumServe sites in Buena Park, Orange and Santa Ana are also taking online appointments. You can call 888-634-1123 to learn more.

Finally, managed health care plans are required to provide testing for essential workers, even if they’re asymptomatic. You can learn more on the California Department of Managed Health Care website.

For more COVID-19 information from the Orange County Health Care Agency, go to occovid19.ochealthinfo.com or call 714-834-2000. For a list of frequently asked questions and answers about the coronavirus, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/article/frequently-asked-questions.