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School-Based COVID-19 Testing

The ICSD is offering school-based COVID-19 testing during the 2021-22 school year to support the health of our school community by reducing the risk of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Our testing program consists of two different types of COVID-19 testing: screening testing and symptomatic testing.
  • Screening Testing: The ICSD is partnering with Affinity Empowering, a federally contracted organization, to offer weekly screening testing (formerly "surveillance testing") for students. This type of testing is used to understand the prevalence of COVID-19 in our school community, identify asymptomatic individuals, and inform decision-making on district health and safety protocols and practices.

  • Symptomatic Testing: The ICSD, in affiliation with Cayuga Health System, is also offering symptomatic testing for students who become unwell at school. Swabbing occurs before the symptomatic individual leaves campus, and the test result is available afterward. This is an anterior nares sample (swab at the front of each nostril, not far-reaching up the nasal cavity) that students can administer themselves or with the help of a nurse.

Both types of COVID-19 tests are provided at no cost, and participation is voluntary.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

PROGRAM OVERVIEW
Why implement a testing program?
Is participation in testing required for school attendance?
How do I provide consent for my student to be tested?
What happens if I do not consent to my child getting tested?
How do employees consent to participate in screening testing?

SCREENING TESTING
How does screening testing work at the elementary level?
How does screening testing work at the secondary level?
How are samples collected for screening testing?
How long does it take to receive screening test results?
How do I view screening test results?

SYMPTOMATIC TESTING
How does symptomatic testing work?
How are samples collected for symptomatic testing?
How long does it take to receive symptomatic test results?
How do I view symptomatic test results?
If the result is positive, does my child need another test to confirm the result?
 
PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Q

Why implement a testing program?

A

The ICSD is incorporating testing as part of our comprehensive approach to reducing transmission. Symptom screening, testing, and contact tracing are strategies to identify people infected with SARS-CoV-2 so that we may take actions to slow and stop the spread of the virus.

The goals of our testing program are to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, reduce out-of-school time, and alleviate barriers to testing (e.g., transportation, testing site operating hours).

Q

Is participation in testing required for school attendance?

A

No. Our testing program is voluntary. A parent or guardian must provide consent in order for their child(ren) to participate in screening and/or symptomatic testing.

Q

How do I provide consent for my student to be tested?

A

Caregivers who would like to provide consent for their child/ren to participate in screening testing must register with Affinity Empowering. Those who are unable to register online may complete a paper copy of the registration form and return it to their child's school.

Caregivers who would like to provide consent for their child/ren to participate in symptomatic testing should search for an email from healthalerts@icsd.k12.ny.us with a customized link to an online consent form.

Q

What happens if I do not consent to my child getting tested?

A

All testing is voluntary. Your child will not be required to be tested if you do not consent. We strongly encourage providing consent for testing, as it is non-invasive and can support community health. Feel free to reach out to your child’s school nurse and/or principal if you have questions.

Q

How do employees consent to participate in screening testing?

A

Staff who would like to participate in screening testing must register with Affinity Empowering. Those who are unable to register online may complete a paper copy of the registration form and return it to their school: teacher form, staff member form.
SCREENING TESTING

Q

How does screening testing work at the elementary level?

A

Each week, a district-wide team consisting of retired nurses, administrators, and others travel to classrooms to supervise sample collection by class. Depending on the number of consented students in a class, the team will either (a) welcome students to the hallway to collect samples or (b) work with students to collect samples in the classroom.

Two samples are collected from each student - one for pooled testing purposes and one for individual testing purposes - and students can self-sample or one of the team members can collect a sample for them. The team ensures the samples are in the correct acceptable and labeled correctly, and then move on to the next classroom.

Q

How does screening testing work at the secondary level?

A

Each week, a district-wide team consisting of retired nurses, administrators, and others supervises sample collection in a stationary area. Students are assigned specific appointment times, which are emailed to them in advance with the testing location noted.

Two samples are collected from each student - one for pooled testing purposes and one for individual testing purposes - and students can self-sample or one of the team members can collect a sample for them. The team ensures the samples are in the correct acceptable and labeled correctly.

Q

How are samples collected for screening testing?

A

Collections are done with what is called a lower anterior nasal swab, which is a collection swab about the size of a Q-tip that is placed just into the lower part of the nose and swirled around 3 times to collect the sample. This approach is much more comfortable and is not the collection method where the swab is placed deep into the nose. Students can self-sample or one of the team members can collect a sample for them.

Q

How long does it take to receive screening test results?

A

Two samples are collected from each individual when tested - one for pooled testing and one for individual testing - and overnighted to the testing lab. Generally, it takes 24 to 48 hours for individual test results to be posted on the Assure platform.

Q

How do I view screening test results?

A

If you/your child is part of a pool that does not detect COVID-19, you will not get an individual test result, however, the school will be notified that the pool sample was negative. If there is a risk that someone in the pool might have had COVID-19, and therefore every swab in the pool needs to be processed individually, then you will get a result posted in the Assure platform. You can set up your account preferences to send you a text message or an email when a new result is available. Otherwise, we recommend logging into the system periodically to check results. Our schools will also be monitoring results for all students.
SYMPTOMATIC TESTING

Q

How does symptomatic testing work?

A

Students with caregiver consent who show signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while at school are tested in the nurse's office before leaving campus to self-isolate at home.

Q

How are samples collected for symptomatic testing?

A

Collections are done with what is called a lower anterior nasal swab, which is a collection swab about the size of a Q-tip that is placed just into the lower part of the nose and swirled around 3 times to collect the sample. This approach is much more comfortable and is not the collection method where the swab is placed deep into the nose. Students can self-sample or the school nurse can collect a sample for them.

Q

How long does it take to receive symptomatic test results?

A

Samples collected at school sites are transported via courier to Cayuga Health System laboratories, and test results are generally available within 24-48 hours. The turnaround time may be subject to change based upon demand and laboratory capacity.

Q

How do I view symptomatic test results?

A

After symptomatic students are tested for COVID-19 at school, the test results are posted on the Cayuga Medical Center Patient Portal. Directions for accessing your results can be found below. If you still have questions about whether your child is cleared to return to school, you may contact the school nurse.

If you have a Patient Portal account:

If you do not have a Patient Portal account:

  • Go to mycayugahealth.cayugamed.org
  • Click on the Sign Up link and fill in the enrollment information
  • Receive an immediate email confirmation and create your login/password
  • Click on Health Record and then Results
If you need assistance with your Patient Portal account, call 607-319-5708 or email mycayugahealthsupport@cayugamed.org. For answers to frequently asked questions regarding testing and results, visit cayugahealthsystem.org/faq.

Q

If the result is positive, does my child need another test to confirm the result?

A

No. The samples collected in school are analyzed using molecular testing technology. These are high-sensitivity, high-specificity tests for diagnosing SARS-CoV-2 infection. If your child's symptomatic testing result is positive, you can expect a phone call from the county health department with further instructions.