With COVID-19 cases rising across the city, St. Paul Public Schools says it is exploring a plan to offer rapid testing for students who show symptoms of the virus.

The e-mail to families Wednesday also said the state's second-largest district has upped its communications protocols to notify every student in a classroom when a positive case arises that involves a person who was on-site while infectious.

"If a student is considered a close contact, the family will receive instructions on the next steps (getting tested, quarantining, etc.)," the district said.

For now, however, the district has ruled out the idea of providing on-site testing of students on a more routine basis, calling it "unrealistic" due to funding limitations and other challenges, among them parental consent and staffing issues.

Lesley Lavery, a member of the group Parents for St. Paul Schools, said Thursday: "These are poor excuses."

In an e-mail to Superintendent Joe Gothard, school board members and the district's top health official, Lavery wrote that "parents who are already dealing with transportation challenges and juggling child care due to quarantines and closures need COVID-19 testing to happen at school," and that the district ought to exhaust every option to make that happen.

"Do the right thing even if it's hard," she wrote.

The district stated in its e-mail that weekly testing for COVID-19 is recommended for everyone — even those who've been vaccinated — and it listed a number of sites where free testing is available, including Roy Wilkins Auditorium and CVS and Walgreens pharmacies.

As of Thursday, the district reported 222 positive cases in September, with 145 of them involving students, according to the district's COVID-19 dashboard. A total of 140 cases involving both staff and students were reported in May — the most recent month during which both were in school for an extended period of time.