Tests Only to Be Used Should Students and Staff Begin to Exhibit Symptoms in a School Building
WEST NEWBURY — Superintendent Justin Bartholomew reports the Pentucket Regional School District is now able to provide rapid COVID-19 tests to students or staff who may fall ill during the school day.
The program is only available to students and staff in the hybrid learning model, should they begin to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 after arriving in-person at school. The program is not open to the public, students and staff taking part in fully remote learning, or hybrid students and staff who fall ill on weekends, holidays or during remote learning days.
“This is a great step forward in expediting the contact tracing process in our schools and will make a big difference in stopping the spread sooner,” Superintendent Bartholomew said. “We’re deeply grateful to have been selected by the state to receive these tests, and obtain near instant results. I’d also like to recognize our school nurses, who have continued to step up throughout this pandemic to serve our schools and trained this winter to prepare to administer these tests as needed.”
Pentucket Regional School District was one of 134 districts chosen in November 2020 by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the U.S. Department of Defense to receive BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 tests to help identify cases of coronavirus in the district. The district has approximately 400 tests on standby at this time.
If a school nurse determines an individual qualifies for a test and that person tests positive for COVID-19, they will be sent home and given instructions regarding the next steps to take, including self-isolation protocols and additional testing requirements.
Even if a person tests negative, they will still be sent home and required to isolate for 10 days as a result of their symptoms. The student or staff member will also be encouraged to obtain a PCR test regardless of their results.
Parents and guardians will be called should a school nurse determine their student is eligible to be tested to discuss the options available, and consent for testing will be confirmed with a paper or electronic option. Students will be placed in isolation rooms should they begin exhibiting symptoms as has been done since the start of the school year until they are picked up by a parent or guardian.
Nurses at each district school have been trained to administer the nasal swab tests, which take approximately 15 minutes to yield a result. The district also has created isolation areas at each school for those who are showing symptoms.
The instant results will also allow for the district to start conducting contract tracing immediately after a positive result is received, helping to mitigate further spread of the virus in the school community.
Families and staff are reminded that any individual who is showing any COVID-19-related symptoms prior to the start of the school day must stay home and contact their healthcare provider about testing. Those who may have been exposed to the disease are asked to remain home as well, monitor themselves for symptoms and contact their healthcare provider about testing options.