Olney Charter High School offers free COVID-19 testing following student's death

17-year-old senior Alayna Thach died from COVID-19 last week.

Katherine Scott Image
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Philly school offers free COVID testing following student's death
"She was a great student, a very important part of our community," said principal James Thompson.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Free COVID-19 testing was available Wednesday morning for students, family and staff at Olney Charter High School in Philadelphia.

It's been a difficult time for the school community.

Last week, 17-year-old senior Alayna Thach died from COVID-19.

"She was a great student, a very important part of our community," said principal James Thompson. "We're definitely trying to heal, with everything that we have going on, but we are a tight-knit school community."

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The latest wave of COVID-19 infections has teachers at a Philadelphia school demanding more be done to protect them in the classroom.

Aspira, the company that runs the school, says the decision to provide testing comes after the rapidly spreading omicron variant and is the latest in a series of safety protocols.

Educator Leigh Pesko felt it was important she get tested before seeing family.

"Over the holidays knowing I might be around some family members, to make sure that I can show that they're not at any risk, being a teacher and being around multiple kids," explained Pesko after her nasal swab.

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Some members of the teaching staff have been critical of the school's COVID safety protocols since Thach's death. On Monday, administrators say 41 teachers called out forcing the school to switch to online learning.

The school offers contact tracing and has said Thach did not contract covid at school.

Classes will remain virtual through Thursday and then winter break begins.

"Our goal is always to make sure we're maintaining the absolutely safest environment for the staff and students in our building, and this was an opportunity for us to just do something additional, that's really beneficial," Thompson said.

Additional testing will be available for the school community on Thursday morning.