The Nevada Department of Education, in partnership with THT Health, (formerly known as Teachers Health Trust) announced the Task Force Initiative for Educator’s Safety and Screening to promote the health and safety of staff, students, families and communities by preventing the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Nevada’s schools.
TIES, designed in collaboration with district leaders, teacher representatives and health professionals, is a free COVID-19 testing program for participating educators, administrators, bus drivers and school staff. Originally conceptualized to serve Clark County School District, the fifth largest district in the nation, NDE partnered with THT Health to expand TIES to serve educators and staff throughout Nevada’s 17 school districts and public charter schools.
Funding for the TIES testing program was made possible by a state allocation of $13.2 million in federal CARES Act funding.
The self-monitoring and testing program will be administered through a mobile app, powered by emocha Health at Johns Hopkins University, to help assess COVID-19 related health risks, track symptoms and communicate with appropriate state and district entities on matters related to the virus. The TIES program will screen and evaluate for potential COVID-19 exposure, infection or risk with the support of infectious disease experts, physician leaders, public health experts and leading pathology experts.
The aggressive timeline for implementation will begin this month with systematic outreach to all teachers, staff and bus drivers encouraging them to enroll using the emocha Health mobile app.
“On behalf of Nevada’s educators, administrators and staff, I want to thank Governor Sisolak and the Legislature for their investment in this tremendous resource,” Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert said. “We are so pleased that all of our school staff, including bus drivers, administrative support and others, have access to these preventative services to help keep our schools and communities healthy.”
TIES will help ensure that educators, staff, students and their families have confidence that systems are in place to prevent and track exposure in our schools.
“We know that the creation of an affordable, value-based health care program such as this one is a tremendous commitment, but when sheltering in place became real last March, we committed and proactively began working with our local leaders, including the Nevada Department of Education, University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, the Nevada Association of School Superintendents and our health care partners to develop a testing program and related services to support teachers and school staff,” THT Health CEO Michael Skolnik said. “We are grateful for the partnership of NDE and for the state’s investment in this timely and critical need.”
With an unknown timeline for a safe and scientifically accepted COVID-19 vaccine, the TIES coalition will continue to monitor and assess active COVID-19 exposure, infection, partial immunity or assumed risk based on symptoms. TIES will work collaboratively with state and local governments to update and modify the testing and screening approach to take full advantage of proven and innovative methods as they become available.