TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation’s rapid testing efforts at Sequoyah High School are protecting students and staff from person-to-person exposure of COVID-19 by quickly pinpointing cases and limiting the spread of the virus as intended.

Sequoyah students returned to optional and limited in-person classroom instruction on Oct. 19 after Cherokee Nation obtained 6,000 Abbott BinaxNOW rapid test kits. A portion of the rapid tests have been used to test Sequoyah students and staff each week before they enter the school building.

“Since Oct. 19 we have identified seven positive cases of COVID-19 at Sequoyah High School through our proactive and stringent testing efforts. These seven students and anyone who may have come in contact with them were quickly quarantined according to the Cherokee Nation Public Health team’s guidelines,” said Chief of Staff Todd Enlow. “The ability to quickly test all of our students and staff is critical to maintaining limited, in-person learning opportunities at Sequoyah and preventing outbreaks not just in our school system, but among our most vulnerable citizens. As Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. has said throughout this pandemic, the tribe continues to make decisions based on medical science, facts and compassion. There is absolutely no doubt that this approach is working and saving lives. We will continue to provide the safest environments possible for our students and staff, from our rapid testing efforts, to our policies on mask-wearing, social-distancing and the increased cleaning efforts of our facilities.”

Optional in-person learning at Sequoyah is available for freshmen on Mondays, sophomores on Tuesdays, juniors on Wednesdays and seniors on Thursdays. The remainder of weekdays are set aside for virtual learning, and Fridays are reserved for parents or guardians to meet with faculty. All students also have the option of maintaining a completely virtual learning experience.

The Abbott BinaxNOW rapid test is a simple-to-use nasal swab, is inexpensive and can easily be administered by medical personnel or trained operators. The easy-to-use system does not require any laboratory machinery, and is compact enough that the tests are run on a card that is about the size of a credit card. Positive and negative results are available in as little as 15 minutes. Staff at Sequoyah Schools received training with Cherokee Nation Health Services to administer the cutting-edge tests.

Cherokee Nation’s rapid tests have also been strategically distributed to health centers throughout the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county reservation.

Cherokee Nation received its 6,000 rapid tests from the Indian Health Service.