SY2021-2022 DESE Funded COVID-19 Testing Program

 

During the 2020-21 school year, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) introduced COVID19 screening and diagnostic testing in the school setting as an additional mitigation strategy for COVID-19, the first program of its kind nationwide. 

 

As noted in the DESE/DPH COVID-19 Guidance for Districts and Schools: Fall 2021 released on July 30, 2021, districts and schools are highly encouraged to maintain or establish a robust plan for COVID-19 testing in schools, including both diagnostic testing and routine (weekly) COVID pooled testing. Diagnostic testing is an important tool for use in testing asymptomatic close contacts as part of the updated “Test and Stay” COVID-19 response protocols.

 

Following a competitive procurement process, EOHHS and DESE are making diagnostic and routine (weekly) COVID pooled testing services available under a single contract with the testing provider CIC Health.

 

Westood Public School Testing Methods:

 

“Test and Stay” (close contact testing): Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test or another approved diagnostic test. Tests are administered daily from the first day of exposure for at least five (7) days. Accepted by WPS District. Process and schedule for "Test to Stay" testing remains under design

 

Routine COVID Pooled Testing and Lab-Based Follow-Up Testing: Shallow nasal swab or saliva samples are collected and kept separate before being grouped at the lab. If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing occurs at the lab, without a second sample collection. Individual test results are reported to the school. Accepted by WPS District. Process and schedule for Routine COVID-19 Pooled Testing remains under design.

 

Symptomatic Testing: Westwood Public Schools does not offer rapid testing of symptomatic students and staff at this time.  Students and staff who are symptomatic should follow DPH protocols.  

 

Routine weekly COVID safety checks minimize disruption to learning by helping us catch potential spread of the virus before it starts. Students self-administer the test at school on a weekly basis. A pool of  2-10 samples are then shipped to the Broad Institute Lab for an FDA authorized PCR test.  In almost all cases, it will take less than 24 hours to receive results. If a pool is positive, the students identified in the positive pool will take individual tests at school to determine which student(s) in the pool produced the positive test.

 

Test and Stay allows students identified as a close contact to a COVID-19 positive student, to stay in school as long as they remain asymptomatic. This is a notable alternative to quarantining at home and missing school.  School based close contacts will take a daily rapid test before the start of school. The duration of the Test and Stay option is 5 days.  If day 5 falls on a weekend or extended holiday weekend, they will be tested one last time upon return to school.

 

Resources on COVID-19 Testing:

CDC Guidance on Fully Vaccinated Individuals

MA DOE DESE COVID Testing Website 

DESE COVID-19 Protocal Flowcharts

CIC Health FAQs

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