Flagstaff City Council To Mull Wastewater Testing For COVID-19 In Public Schools

Sep 6, 2021

Samples of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Flagstaff.
Credit Angela Gervasi KNAU

The Flagstaff City Council is set on Tuesday to discuss wastewater testing for COVID-19 within public schools. 

Mayor Paul Deasy has pitched a proposal to test wastewater on a weekly basis, analyzing water within the city’s treatment plants, the Flagstaff Unified School District, and at any charter schools that agree to participate in the process. No more than $50,000 would be allocated for the effort, according to the city council agenda.

Coconino County data released on Friday shows 52.1% of Flagstaff’s population is fully vaccinated — a rate that lags behind other communities, like the Grand Canyon area, which holds a vaccination rate of 70.7%, and Page, with a rate of 76%.

Deasy’s proposal says the wastewater testing is intended to better analyze transmission in the city, in areas where hesitancy remains prevalent, and in “populations that do not yet have the choice to be vaccinated.” A COVID-19 vaccine has not been approved for children under the age of 12.

The discussion comes as pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations remain a concern among public health officials. Reuters reports nationwide hospitalizations for the virus hit a record high last month. 

Cases and outbreaks have been documented so far this year in schools across northern Arizona. The Sinagua Middle School within the Flagstaff Unified School District reverted to remote learning last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

FUSD released new data on Friday, reporting116 positive COVID-19 tests between Aug. 22 and Aug. 28.

 

Flagstaff Unified is one of several districts statewide that implemented a mask mandate, citing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The public council meeting, now held in-person with online streaming, is slated for tomorrow afternoon