ResourcePath launched the first weekly COVID-19 Surveillance Program in partnership with Arlington County Public Schools. The goal of the program was to help monitor for COVID-19 infection in school children and staff and minimize the risk of outbreaks. Within the first month of APS Surveillance Testing, over 15 outbreaks were prevented. Testing is an important component of a school’s comprehensive safety plan, which includes improved ventilation and detailed cleaning; requiring mask wearing indoors and on buses, social distancing when possible, vaccine mandates for teachers and staff, and contact tracing.
While the Surveillance Testing program initially was designed for schools, it is compatible with any organization’s safety plan.
If you are interested in Surveillance Testing for your school (as well as summer programs, camps, and companies) please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call our lab directly at 571-375-0755.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What kind of test is used?
The department of health has recommended that laboratories performing surveillance testing move to using PCR testing to support their programs. However, ResourcePath does have an ample supply of colloidal gold Rapid Antigen Tests for use in school surveillance programs. Our laboratory also performs RT-PCR testing on mid-nasal swab specimens using the same self-guided method that is used for antigen testing. It is up to your comprehensive safety plan to determine the best test to use in your school. There is virtually no difference to the end user in how the testing is performed, whether it be a PCR or Antigen Test. While the turn around of PCR test results is not as immediate as the antigen tests, the sensitivity and accuracy of the PCR test is superior to the antigen test. All PCR samples will be processed within 24 hours and any positive cases will be notified immediately. All antigen samples will be processed within 6 hours.
My child is vaccinated. Why does he/she need to test?
Another great question! The testing plan changed when our laboratory began to see very high viral loads in vaccinated individuals infected with the delta variant as well as outbreaks among vaccinated individuals in the Northern Virginia area. Unlike with previous strains, the delta variant produces a lot of virus in both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. We think that vaccinated individuals can be as contagious as unvaccinated individuals when infected by this variant. Because of above reasons, vaccinated individuals should not opt out of testing as they can be the source for a team outbreak.
Do you bill insurance for surveillance testing?
Weekly surveillance testing will not be charged to insurance. Insurance information is collected at the time of the consenting process to make it easy to later access PCR testing at anytime if one becomes symptomatic or exposed or has a positive rapid test on weekly surveillance testing. Families will never incur out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing.
What happens with a positive test? How do we know it isn't a false positive?
There is a small rate of false positives with the rapid antigen test which can be minimized by proper handling and reading the result within the recommended time window. Trained ResourcePath staff will be responsible for all result interpretation and students/coaches will be notified immediately if a test is positive or if a test needs to be repeated for any reason.
All positive rapid antigen tests will be confirmed by RT-PCR. If a student tests positive on rapid antigen on the day of a game, ResourcePath will use its FDA approved rapid RT-PCR test to confirm to minimize the risk of a student obtaining a false positive diagnosis.
What is the benefit of getting vaccinated if delta variant can still infect me?
There are many very good reasons to get vaccinated. The vaccinations are effective at limiting morbidity and mortality. Some people have the misconception that younger people handle the virus fine and we should just let them get it for “herd immunity” similar to the way we used to think about chicken pox. While acute symptoms are typically mild in young people, as a pediatric pathologist I have seen COVID-19 related myocarditis and autoimmune syndrome and stroke in young people. In addition, there is this syndrome called “long-COVID” where symptoms like fatigue, difficulty thinking and planning can last for months. No one knows a good treatment for this. The best plan is prevention.
Even though the delta variant can infect vaccinated individuals, the severity of the infection appears to be reduced and the contagion period is shorter. It is likely that vaccinated individuals have a much lower risk of health complications from COVID.
How are students selected for weekly testing?
Surveillance testing is a community based approach to monitoring and detecting asymptomatic COVID-19 infection that could lead to outbreaks in a school setting. Our goal is to test at least 30% of the population of each school, each week. The more people that participate in the program, the more opportunities there are for early detection, which will further reduce the risk of COVID-19 for our kids and our communities.
Who performs the testing on the students?
ResourcePath has hired experienced nurses, technologists and medical assistants to perform, observe and interpret the BINAX Now rapid antigen testing. For students old enough to perform the testing on themselves, our team will provide the swab to the student, observe the procedure, retrieve the swab and then perform the rapid test. For younger students who may not be comfortable with swabbing themselves, our trained staff will perform the swab for he/she/them.
All rapid tests will be interpreted in the 15-30 minute time period as recommended. Any positive tests are treated as urgent and parents are notified by phone as soon as the test results are ready.
Are elementary students too young to participate?
The pilot summer school program at Barcroft Elementary enrolled 40 of 100 summer school students. Each student participated in twice weekly testing for one month and they did a great job! Our laboratory specializes in developing pediatric diagnostics and many of our staff have experience working with young kids.
What day will the testing team be at my child's school?
Please check with your school regarding the days and times for testing.
What do you do with the samples and information collected?
We are experienced physicians and technologists. We are a small locally owned and operated company and are CLIA licensed and CAP accredited. Several of our team members have children in the local public school districts we are serving. Our sole mission with COVID testing is to do the best job humanly possible to:
- Provide accurate and timely results
- Provide post-test education and guidance in support of our public health colleagues
- Provide education and guidance for incorporating testing into a COVID mitigation plans
- Do our part to help keep our kids and teachers safe and end this pandemic
We are committed to protecting everyone’s private health information and we follow HIPAA guidelines. Note with signing the consent for testing you are giving us permission to alert the appropriate school personnel needed to inform contact tracing.
We do not store or research any human DNA that may be on the swab. All the material is used for extracting RNA from the virus. Even though this is a “genetic” test, we are looking at the virus genes not human genes.
We would never sell your information. The information we collect is only for making an accurate and timely diagnosis. We collect insurance information (or Social Security number if uninsured) so that if you need a PCR test throughout the course of the year for exposure or symptoms, we can bill insurance (or HRSA program if uninsured). Surveillance testing will not be billed to insurance.