After the Palo Alto Unified School District COVID testing clinics closed to the public as of Jan. 10, wait times at the clinic and overcrowding have significantly reduced while the number of tests administered has remained high.

“Yesterday, we tested 500 people,” Cubberly clinic worker Mariam Mahmood said on Jan. 14. “The line was not too long, we were doing [tests] as fast as we can and they [students and staff] maybe waited 15 to 20 minutes.”

Mahmood said on average, staff and students have waited no more than half an hour to receive tests since the clinic closed to the public on Monday Jan. 10, a significant decrease from the wait times endured by students when the clinic was open to the public.


“Yesterday, we tested 500 people. The line was not too long, we were doing [tests] as fast as we can and they [students and staff] maybe waited 15 to 20 minutes.”

— Mariam Mahmood, clinic worker


Palo Alto High School junior Drew Vetteth, who went to the Cubberly clinic on Jan. 3, said he and others waited in line for over three hours.

“Nurses had to tell people in the back half of the line that they likely wouldn’t get tested and it may not be worth waiting,” Vetteth said. “Probably more than half of the line left before getting tested.”

Superintendent Don Austin said then that long lines were expected due to limited staffing at the clinic, and that he understood many would not want to wait hours to get tested.

“Honestly, I’m not sure I’d wait in this line,” Austin said in an interview with Verde on Jan 3.

Despite the long lines, according to the Superintendent’s Update on Jan. 7, the clinic tested 6,001 students and staff from Dec. 8 to Jan. 5.

Additional reporting by Jonas Pao