Arlington Public Schools and ResourcePath are launching sentinel surveillance daily rapid antigen testing program on September 13th. The goal of the program is to help monitor COVID-19 infection in school children and staff and minimize risk of outbreaks. Testing is an important component of the comprehensive safety plan designed by Arlington Public Schools which includes improved ventilation and detailed cleaning; requiring mask wearing indoors and on buses, social distancing when possible, vaccine mandate for teachers and staff and contact tracing.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What kind of test is used?
The Virginia Department of Health has provided the Abbott BINAX-Now rapid antigen cards free of charge. This test uses a self-administered nasal swab under the guidance of ResourcePath staff. Results are available in about 15 minutes. An instruction video is available on YouTube. The FDA-EUA information about this test can be accessed here.
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?
Our goal is to provide at least once a week tests to every student and staff member who wants to or is required to be tested.
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 showed 40 of 100 summer school students participated in twice weekly testing for one month. They did great!
What day will the testing team be at my child's school?
The testing days and times will be available on or slightly before September 13th. Testing will occur during lunch and recess periods.
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 with CLIA licensed and CAP accreditation. 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 plan
- 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 RNA extraction of 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 with rapid antigen tests will not be billed to insurance.