Shelby County Schools to begin testing kids for lead Tuesday

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Schools parents, lead testing at your child’s school could start Tuesday. Here's what you need to know.

If you have a child at one of the more than 30 schools with abnormal levels of lead found in the water, you should’ve received a consent form last week along with a questionnaire to return to the school.

But health department officials say they can’t provide a schedule just yet.

Dr. Bruce Randolph with the Shelby County Health Department said the process will take a while because they have to test each kid individually.

Parents should prepare their children for a finger prick — nothing more —  and then be ready to wait seven to 10 days for the results.

"They’re not getting a shot, because kids are afraid of shots. It would be more like a little bee sting,” Randolph said.

If they come back positive, there would be even more testing.

"We would have to draw blood from the child’s veins in the arm. That will enable us to do a confirmatory test to determine exactly the level of exposure,” Randolph said.

Health department officials say test results will only be released to parents, and not the school district.

That means it’s even more important for parents to get informed, because lead levels may come from somewhere other than school.

“We do know in Shelby County, there are a lot of other things that contribute to children testing positive for lead and a lot of that is in the home environment," said Alisha Haushalter, director of the Shelby County Health Department;.

Health officials say they don’t know exactly how long all the testing will take but it will not be over by the end of this month. That means it will last beyond winter break and into the new year.

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