Area schools receive testing for COVID-19 through HCHF

The Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation has successfully funded COVID-19 testing at Blue Ridge School and Early College, Highlands School, and Summit Charter School to maximize the safety of in-school learning and minimize the risk of community spread.

“We had our COVID-19 testing, provided by the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation,” said Brad Hughes Parent and Math Teacher at Summit Charter School. “It was quick, efficient, and easy. By Friday, I had received my results, as well as my children’s results. It has already been a wonderful way to give my wife and me peace of mind as we work, and send our children to school, during a pandemic. Thank you so much for your generous contribution that has allowed us to receive weekly testing.”

The goal of testing is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and eventually return students back to regular operations.

“We are aiming to minimize the risk of COVID-19 in our schools and the community, and thereby increase confidence for safe in-school learning,” said Dr. Richard Ellin, HCHF Board member and leader of the school testing project. “In addition, keeping the risk of COVID-19 transmission low allows the economy to remain open, helps businesses thrive and allows people to remain employed. This program benefits the entire community, not just the schools.”

Highlands School and Summit Charter School began the testing program during the week of September 14 and Blue Ridge School and Early College began their first week of testing during the week of October 5. 

There has been a weekly increase of both students and teachers signing up for the program.  The testing project is planned to continue weekly through December 18, except for Thanksgiving week, provided in-school learning continues.

“The ability to offer our students and staff weekly testing provides a level of assurance to the health of our campus and community that otherwise would not be possible,” said Kurt Pusch, Head of Summit Charter School. “Voluntary testing is a level of protection that few K-12 schools are able offer.  Summit Charter School is especially grateful for the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation’s investment in this program and the health of our schools and community,”

Dr. Walter Cark, HCHF Chairman said it all about protecting the kids.

“The whole idea is to protect our children, faculty and staff from spreading the virus to each other, their families and surrounding communities,” said Clark. “Each school brings great value to our community. Our Board believes this substantial investment is vital to the health and safety of everyone on the plateau. It is just the kind of project we like to undertake.  One that no one else is doing or would do, and yet one that will have significant positive impact. We hope our community will join us in this initiative.”

Highlands High School AP English Teacher Cathy McIntyre-Ross said she appreciates the testing.

“The COVID-19 testing program that is being provided at Highlands School by the Highlands Cashiers Hospital Foundation has really eased my mind and lowered my anxiety,” said McIntyre-Ross. “Being 65, my risk is greater for the virus. But even if I was 25, I would still want to be tested weekly for many reasons. The main one is I want our school to stay open! The more students, faculty, and staff that are tested, the greater the chance we can contain an outbreak and stay on campus for in-person learning – it is that simple.”

About Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation

The Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation was established on February 1, 2019 as a 501 (c) 3 public charity with a purpose to improve the health and wellbeing of Highlands, Cashiers, and surrounding communities.

For more information please visit the website: or call 828.482.6510.

Pictured at the top of the article are students at Highlands School in line to be tested for COVID-19.

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