New study looks at how to get special needs kids back to in-person learning with weekly testing

NOW: New study looks at how to get special needs kids back to in-person learning with weekly testing

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - Researchers at UW School of Medicine and Public Health are taking a look at how to get vulnerable kids safely back in the classroom.

Parents of kids with special needs are more likely to keep their children remote as the pandemic continues. The study is called "ReSET: Restarting Safe Education and Testing for Children with Medical Complexity."

Fifty families with children with special needs are given rapid antigen tests for their kids twice a week.

"I think the testing really puts me more at ease," Katie Moureau said.

Katie Moureau's 6-year-old son Cade has a multitude of medical concerns including sleep apnea and other respiratory issues, making him highly susceptible to COVID-19.

The first grader is still learning from home. He's taking part in the ReSET study through UW Health to see if weekly testing will help get him back into the classroom.

"It's rapid testing and the university sends us the tests each month. You just take a little swab and it goes in just to the tip of the nose," Moureau said.

The study is funded by a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Parents are absolutely loving that because testing is really kind of a pain in the neck. You have to find a place that's doing it, make an appointment, get in," Dr. Gregory Demuri said.

Dr. Gregory Demuri is one of the principal investigators on the study. So far, he's seeing positive results.

"These kids are really vulnerable, but when that kid has that negative test I think it provides that level of reassurance," he said.

Researchers are also sending out surveys to 1,000 families for feedback on the best ways to return to in-person learning. The data will help parents, doctors and administrators make safe choices for kids.

"It's masking, vaccination, good plans in place in the schools so that kids are safe," Dr. Demuri said.

He also said most of these families are waiting for the FDA to approve the vaccine for kids 5-11 to send them back to in-person learning.

He said that approval could come within days.

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