Student COVID Screening Testing
COVID Screening Testing in School
Who is included?
All K-12 students enrolled in the hybrid learning model in brick-and-mortar schools whose parents/guardians consent for them to participate. The district also will test all staff working in brick-and-mortar schools or at district support sites who consent to participate.
The district has sent school families an email with the process to consent to participate by November 20. Families may opt in or opt out of their students participating.
What is the purpose of the testing?
The testing effort will have a dual purpose: baseline screening testing and ongoing surveillance.
1) Baseline testing to get an estimate of the prevalence of infection in schools. For this purpose, we will make the test available to 100% of faculty/staff and will select 25% of students at as close to a random sample as possible.
2) Ongoing testing to identify and mitigate asymptomatic cases in the schools that have the potential to transmit to others unknowingly. For this purpose, we will test 25% of faculty/staff each month, and approximately 10% of students per month. The tests for students will be allocated based on vulnerability and risk.
Allocation Process and Parameters
Baseline Testing Process: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health/LMH Health team receives a list of students and randomizes the 25%, then provides selected names to the school to notify students of their selection. Students and staff may opt out of testing.
Ongoing Testing Process: LDCPH/LMH Health provides tests to the school each month; districts/schools select students.
Parameters for allocating the ongoing testing to schools include:
- If baseline positivity is >5%, allocate more tests to that school.
- Base # of tests on % of students in-person at a school, not total enrollment.
NOTE: If a student/faculty member has been tested previously:
- If the test was negative, they will still be included in the selection pool and eligible for a test.
- If the test was positive, they are presumed positive for 90 days following the test. They will not be included in the selection pool.
- If they become symptomatic, they should work with their primary health care provider to evaluate their case.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if a positive test is found in my student’s classroom?
Through contact tracing, school and health officials identify close contacts or anyone who has been within 6 feet for longer than 10 minutes of an infected individual or potentially had direct contact with their saliva or mucus, such as by being coughed or sneezed on or through sharing of utensils. Depending on a variety of factors, including the age of the child or distancing while in the classroom, no one, a few students, or an entire class could be identified as close contacts.
LDCPH works closely with the school nurses to determine close contacts, who are asked to quarantine at home for 10 days following their last exposure to the positive case to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Keep in mind, a negative test does not release a close contact from quarantine. One cannot test out of quarantine. Only direct contacts of a positive case are asked to quarantine. If your student is identified as a close contact, then only that student, not the student’s entire household, is asked to quarantine.
What if my student tests positive?
If your student tests positive, they will be required to isolate for 10 days following the positive test if they are not sick. If they are sick, even with mild symptoms, they are required to isolate 10 days following the start date of the symptoms. They will be able to return to school and regular activities at the end of the isolation period.
What is the process for opting out of testing?
If you would like your student to opt out of being randomly selected for testing, please indicate so on the consent form. You may opt out at any time, even after your student is selected for testing. If you know now that you don’t want your student to participate, please let us know in advance to streamline the process.
What is the method of testing?
The tests will be saliva PCR tests. The individual will be required to spit into a tube in order to provide the sample. Staff will be available to answer any questions while the sample is being collected. Additionally, the individual being tested must not eat, drink (other than water), or brush their teeth for 30 minutes prior to the test. The school will plan testing at a time that accommodates these instructions.
How will I get my student's results? Who else has access to them?
The lab will text results to the number provided on the consent form. The turnaround time for results is approximately 24-48 hours, depending on when tests are delivered to the lab. If a positive test is found, it will be reported to Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health for contact tracing purposes as required by law. Additionally, the school district will receive a report of results.
What will be done with my sample after it has been tested?
The lab we are using uses a pooling strategy for tests, meaning they combine several tests together and identify whether the pooled sample was positive or negative. If negative, all samples included in the lot will be considered negative. If the pooled sample gets a positive result, the test will be re-run on all the samples within that lot to identify the positive sample. Saliva samples will be held back for the purposes of re-testing in this manner. The samples will ONLY be used to identify the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19, and will not be analyzed for other purposes such as genome sequencing.
Can I get an outside test and bring in the results instead?
No. If you do not wish your student to be tested at school, we encourage you to opt out.
Why are you using a PCR test instead of a rapid antigen or antibody test?
A PCR test is considered the ‘gold standard’ in detecting COVID-19 infection.
Antibody tests measure antibody levels in the blood to determine if someone has been exposed to the virus. Unfortunately, these tests aren’t particularly specific in what they measure, and sometimes pick up on antibodies developed to other coronaviruses or other respiratory pathogens. They are unable to say definitively whether someone was recently infected.
Antigen tests are not as specific and often require confirmatory testing to rule out a false positive or false negative. They are best used in an outbreak setting or when individuals are being tested frequently (i.e. every day or every other day).
What if my student has been tested previously?
If an individual has been tested previously and the test was negative, they will still be included in the selection pool and eligible for a test.
If an individual has been tested previously and the test was positive, that person is presumed to receive a positive result for 90 days following the test. They will not be included in the selection pool. If, during those 90 days, the person becomes symptomatic, we recommend they work with a doctor to evaluate their case.