COVID-19 Surveillance Screening FAQs
What is the purpose of weekly COVID-19 screening?
The screening program has several goals, including:
- Reducing school closures and quarantines and allowing for more in-person instruction by identifying and keeping as many asymptomatic people out of the schools.
- Identifying potential cases of COVID-19 in the school population early, reducing transmission.
- Driving down overall rates in our community by alerting those who may need to quarantine before they show symptoms.
- Providing a family and personal benefit for participants of knowing their current COVID-19 status.
Studies have shown that with weekly screening, District 41 will have a more accurate assessment of COVID-19 rates and risks in our schools, providing an extra layer of reassurance for providing in-person instruction in addition to the many safety measures the school already has in place across the district. Twice weekly screening may be made available for those who fall into categories of higher risk of transmission and/or who may be most compromised by COVID 19.
Who will participate?
Students and staff participating in the blended model will be offered screening. While we are still working out a screening schedule, the goal is to provide weekly screens right before a student is scheduled to come to school for two consecutive days. Participating staff will also be screened weekly. Twice weekly screening may be made available for those who fall into categories of higher risk of transmission and/or who may be most compromised by COVID 19.
Can my student participate if they are 100 percent remote?
At this time we are offering screening only to students and staff who are coming to school in person. Once we determine our participation rates, we may be able to expand our capacity to offer to others in the event that we have additional screens available on any given week.
Can the rest of our family participate in this program?
Due to cost and lab processing constraints, only students and staff who are receiving in-person learning will be screened.
Do I need to pay for the screening?
The screening will be provided free of charge to students and staff. The District will cover the cost of the program, which is approximately $11 per sample.
I have multiple students attending in person. Do I need to sign up separately for each one?
Yes, please fill out the form for each one of your children. We will be assigning unique bar codes to every participant, so we need to have information for each student participating.
What does the screening involve?
Students/staff will receive kits including small tubes, plastic baggies, unique bar code stickers for the tubes, and instructions for collecting saliva samples at home. This is a quick process that involves spitting into a tube and then putting it into a bag and sanitizing the bag before returning it to a drop-off box at school. Names are not included with the samples.
When do I have to collect and drop off the saliva sample?
We are still finalizing details of our sample collection procedure. Samples should be collected as close as possible to the time they will be dropped off. We will have collection boxes at all of the schools, and samples can be dropped off at any school. Students will be assigned a drop-off deadline based on the days they are scheduled to attend school. We will provide a number of drop-off times to fit families' schedules and will share those times and locations with students and parent/guardians before the first collection date. Those screening should not eat or drink anything 30 minutes prior to screening.
Who screens the samples?
The District has selected SafeGuard Screening, LLC to provide screening services. The company uses an RT-LAMP surveillance screening process that was adapted by Dr. Ed Campbell and is being used at his local school district, LaGrange District 102. The list of school district clients is rapidly expanding. While the screen is non-diagnostic, it has not produced any false positives to date.
How are results delivered?
On designated screening days, the district will deliver the samples to the lab. We anticipate results within 24 hours and likely sooner depending on the volume of samples dropped off. The lab informs school health personnel of any bar codes that produce a presumptive positive, and those health personnel then will look up the bar codes, inform those families/staff, and advise them to quarantine and seek a PCR test from their doctor or a state testing center. Students/staff who receive a negative test will not receive any notification. *As our county and state are currently experiencing a surge in COVID 19 cases, the availability of diagnostic/confirmatory PCR tests is strained. It is extremely important for our screening participants to know that receiving a presumed positive result is not cause for panic. Please consult with your primary physician/pediatrician and they can best instruct you on next steps. It is important that you do not go directly to a medical facility or Emergency Room. Hospitals are experiencing a significant increase of COVID 19 patients and receiving a presumed positive result is not considered an emergency. The presumed positive person should quarantine at home and isolate to the greatest extent possible from other family members until you consult with your primary physician/pediatrician. If the presumed positive person is experiencing symptoms, you should also consult with your primary physician/pediatrician unless it is an emergency.
What is the likelihood of a false positive screening?
SafeGuard Screening, LLC reports that they have not had any false positive results to date.
Is there a risk of false negatives? How significant is that risk?
There is no test that has no risk of false negatives. This screening method is extremely effective at identifying individuals with the high viral loads that are thought to drive the spread of COVID-19. The sensitivity limit of the test does not pick up all cases from individuals with very low viral loads, but increasing scientific evidence suggests that people with these very low viral loads do not spread the virus to others.
What happens if I receive a positive screening?
Anyone with a positive screening will be advised to quarantine and immediately contact their doctor or a state testing center to schedule a PCR test to confirm the results. Students/staff will be excluded from coming to school during the quarantine period unless the PCR test provides a negative result. It is extremely important for our screening participants to know that receiving a presumed positive result is not cause for panic. Please consult with your primary physician/pediatrician and they can best instruct you on next steps. It is important that you do not go directly to a medical facility or Emergency Room. Hospitals are experiencing a significant increase of COVID 19 patients and receiving a presumed positive result is not considered an emergency. The presumed positive person should quarantine at home and isolate to the greatest extent possible from other family members until you consult with your primary physician/pediatrician. If the presumed positive person is experiencing symptoms, you should also consult with your primary physician/pediatrician unless it is an emergency.
How will you protect the privacy of participants?
Samples are provided with a bar code label that does not include a name. If there is a presumptive positive result, the lab will inform our school health personnel, who will look up the bar code and contact the family or staff member. The lab is not provided with any names of students or staff. The lab also will immediately destroy samples and will not keep any records related to students or staff. Any nurse documentation related to will be maintained within our Student Information System with the same level of security and confidentiality as with all student medical information.
Will any of the samples provided by District 41 and the resulting analysis be used in any publications?
No. Samples are destroyed after testing, and SafeGuard Screening is not keeping any records related to our testing program.
Will screening replace other safety measures at the school?
This screening does not take the place of school's health and safety measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, and enhanced cleaning -- all measures that already make the risk of in-school transmission very low. Instead, it is an additional tool that can help ensure asymptomatic individuals do not come to our campuses and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the community by identifying individuals who may have COVID-19 before they show symptoms and potentially transmit the virus to others.
How have the results of this test been validated?
The results of this test have been validated in studies published by the University of Wisconsin, University of Colorado, and many international institutions. The experience in LaGrange District 102 has also validated these results, as all individuals identified with a "finding of potential clinical significance" have subsequently tested positive in a diagnostic PCR test.
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