COVID-19 Testing PROGRAM

KEEP

KIDS

IN

SCHOOL

Let’s work together to help keep our kids in school. The Lincoln Public Schools remain committed to safe, high-quality in-person learning in our school buildings. Keeping our kids in school, safely, is extremely important this year as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has not authorized districts to create any specialized remote learning programs.


If we work together, we can Keep Kids In School, through:


Vaccination: Vaccinated students and staff reduce COVID-19 cases, close contacts, and quarantine periods. More vaccines mean less time out of school.


Updated Testing Program: Beginning Monday February 7th, we are updating our testing program to have two weekly tests for each participating student - one in-school PCR pool, and one at-home rapid antigen test. Please see below for more information on the updated program.


Masking: Masking in all school buildings helps protect everyone, in particular those who are under 12 who are not yet vaccinated and those that may be at higher risk from COVID-19. Masks reduce transmission and result in fewer COVID-19 cases and less time out of school.


These three steps, taken together, will help us keep our schools safe, and our focus 100% on high-quality, in-person learning where students can move freely between classes, interact with the peers and teachers with few restrictions, and do all of this together, in school.


Families can join the weekly PCR testing program by completing the consent form below:


Families can opt-in to participate in weekly at-home testing by completing the:

one program - Three Types of testing

Symptomatic Testing at school

For when individuals present symptoms while at school; individuals should not go to school if experiencing symptoms while at home

Samples are collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test

Those testing negative with isolated/mild symptoms can stay in school

WEEKLY COVID SAFETY CHECKS IN SCHOOL

Weekly routine COVID safety tests performed in school.

Samples are collected with an anterior nasal swab in school and tested with a PCR test at an off-campus lab.

A second sample is collected for individual PCR testing if necessary to identify the positive case in a pool.


Weekly at-home Rapid antigen tests

Weekly routine COVID safety tests performed at home.

Families receive two tests every two weeks to test on Monday mornings before school. Results are provided within 15 minutes.

Students who test positive isolate at home until 5 days from the positive test and symptoms have resolved.


Testing Program Details

With support from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the district is offering an updated COVID testing program, with three components - symptomatic testing, weekly routine PCR pool tests in-school, and weekly routine at-home safety checks with rapid antigen tests.


Symptomatic Testing

When individuals present symptoms while at school, the nurse will perform a test at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test. If a student has only mild symptoms and tests negative, they can stay in school.


Routine Weekly PCR Pool Test Safety Checks

Once a week in their classroom, participating students and staff will provide a weekly sample via a quick, non-invasive lower nasal swab. The swab will be pooled together with samples from the rest of the participating students in the class. Each pooled sample is tested with a PCR test. If a pool returns a negative result, no COVID-19 was detected. If a pool returns a positive result, each member of the pool will provide a second sample for individual PCR tests to identify who in the pool was positive.


The anterior nasal swab is non-invasive and causes very little discomfort. We have collected nearly 30,000 nasal swabs from our students and staff in PK-8 and students and staff alike reported the process was quick and easy.


This is a voluntary program, and in order to participate you must provide consent. Your consent includes agreement to:

  • Allow your child to be tested as described above

  • Share individual positive test result information with the Department of Public Health and CIC, the testing lab.

  • Allow transmittal of student information via the CIC test processing platform.



Routine Weekly At-Home Rapid Test Safety Checks

We are also now offering families the opportunity to opt-in to weekly at-home testing. All students are eligible for the at-home testing program, regardless of vaccination status. Only students whose families have opted them into the at-home testing program will receive tests to participate. All participants will be asked to test every Monday morning before coming to school (or on Sunday evening, if Monday is not feasible). Students who are positive must stay at home and report their positive result to the school and their primary care physician. Staying home when positive prevents spread in school and contributes to keeping our schools open and everyone in our community safer.


If you would like to opt-in to receive at-home tests, please fill out the form below. Please note it will take 1-2 weeks from opt-in to receive your first tests, so please opt-in as soon as possible.



Below is a detailed comparison of the original and the new program.


The Lincoln Public Schools District is extremely grateful to our committed staff and families that continue to show great flexibility and resilience as we navigate through this pandemic. It takes all of us working together to contain the spread of this virus. We are excited to offer this year's testing program as another mitigation strategy for our school community, as we continue to work together to keep kids in school.


If you have questions regarding the COVID-19 Testing Program, please reach out to covidtesting@lincnet.org.

Original Program

Through Friday 2/4


Weekly in-school PCR pool test:

  • 1 test per week

  • Results in 2-3 days



Symptomatic testing



In-school contact tracing and test-and-stay program


NEW PROGRAM

Beginning Monday 2/7


Weekly in-school PCR pool test:

  • 1 PCR test per week

  • Results in 2-3 days


AND


Weekly at-home rapid antigen test:

  • 1 at-home rapid antigen test per week

  • Rapid results in 15 minutes



Symptomatic testing



PK-5 families will be notified when a positive case occurs in their child’s classroom


6-8 families will be notified when a positive case occurs in the grade level

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do I need to opt-in to receive at-home tests if I already provided consent for the testing program?

A. Yes. The consent was specific to the state program and their testing vendor. The additional opt-in is required to begin receiving at-home tests.


Q. How do I use the at-home test? Will I receive directions?

A. Visit the at-home testing page for step-by-step instructions in multiple languages, video tutorials, and other resources. For a preview of how the at-home tests work, please view this Youtube video from iHealth: How to use the iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test.


Q. Why aren’t we continuing Test and Stay? Wasn’t it successful?

A. Test-and-stay was a very effective tool for keeping students in school safely following COVID exposure, instead of quarantining at home. However, it was less effective at actually identifying positive cases and preventing spread. The data from Test-and-Stay, both locally and statewide, as well as from studies done in other areas of the country, found that the amount of transmission among in-school close contacts was very low. In Massachusetts, 98% of rapid tests of in-school close contacts in Test and Stay were negative and at LPS our data was similar with 99.3% of our tests in Test and Stay returning a negative result. At the same time, we know that the bulk or our positive cases are identified outside of school and are most likely due to transmission outside of school. For instance, we know that 44% of our positive cases have more than one positive sibling in the same household. The state DESE/DPH program offered us the opportunity to reallocate resources from Test-and-Stay to the weekly at-home tests. By shifting from Test-and-Stay to weekly at-home testing we will be doubling our weekly routine tests for all students (not just close contacts), and we will be more likely to catch positive cases which typically are spread outside of school before spread occurs.


Q. Why are we using rapid antigen tests? Aren’t PCR tests the “gold standard”?

A. PCR COVID-19 tests are indeed the “gold standard” for sensitivity - the rate at which they identify positive cases. However, that sensitivity comes at the cost of time. With a typical 2-3 day turnaround from pool sample collection to the receipt of individual results, there may be multiple days of exposure before the positive result is received. With a rapid antigen test, although the sensitivity may be lower, results are received within 15 minutes, and the positive individual can be isolated immediately, providing a significant reduction in exposure. When the application is a weekly screening program of a whole school population, the small reduction in sensitivity in the antigen test is far outweighed by the benefit of getting actionable information in a timely fashion. Because our program includes both a weekly rapid antigen test and a weekly PCR test, we are getting the best of both worlds - the quick, actionable results of the rapid antigen test before students return to school on Monday, followed by the more sensitive PCR.


Q. Which rapid test are you using?

A. Currently we are using two brands of rapid antigen tests. The Abbott BinaxNOW test is used in school for symptomatic testing and reflex (followup) testing when a positive pool result is received. The at-home test brand is i-Health:


Q. How will I receive my child’s at-home tests?

A. At-home tests will be sent home with students every two weeks, typically on Thursdays. Each student will receive one box which contains tests for two weeks.


Q. Do I have to report the results of the at-home tests?

A. All positive test results, including those through the testing program, should be immediately reported to the school nurse and your health care provider.


Q. Can vaccinated people receive at-home tests?

A. Yes. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can receive at-home tests?


Q. Can other people in the home use the school-provided tests? Can my child use the tests for other reasons (prior to travel, etc.)?

A. No. The at-home tests are provided specifically for students to test with prior to school.


Q. Does the swab hurt? I’ve heard COVID-19 testing swabs can be painful.

A. Unlike other COVID-19 tests, the sample collection swabbing will just be in the very lower part of the nose, and is not painful.


Q. If my child doesn’t have symptoms, why bother testing them?

A. Individuals can be completely free of COVID-19 symptoms (or asymptomatic), but still capable of transmitting COVID-19 to others. By participating in testing you are helping protect others in the school who may be more vulnerable, and you are helping to limit asymptomatic spread and keep our schools open.


Q. Is there a cost to participate?

A. No, there is no cost to individuals to participate.



Q. Will it be disruptive to school?

A.The weekly PCR pool testing sample collection will be short and occur only once a week. The time invested in a weekly 5-10 minute sample collection process will help protect against far more disruptive school closures that could result from asymptomatic spread.



Q. Does my child have to participate?

A. No. Participation is a choice, and while we hope everyone in our community chooses to contribute to this effort to keep our schools safe, health, and open, we will respect every family’s decision, and no child will be made to feel stigmatized or singled-out for not participating.



Q. If we participate in testing, do we still have to wear masks and socially distance?

A. Yes. Testing is designed as an additional layer of mitigation and is not sufficient alone to protect our students and staff.



Q. How will I receive notification of routine in-school safety check test results?

A. You will receive a direct notification if your child tests positive. A general notification will be made each week by email when all routine safety check test results have been received and no further results are outstanding.



Q. What will the weekly test results tell us?

A. The test will tell us if COVID-19 was detected. A negative test result means that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was not detected. A positive test result means that SARS-CoV-2 was present.



Q. Is there a potential for false positives?

A. Yes, all COVID-19 tests have the potential for a false positive, but in last year's state-wide testing program false positives were very rare.



Q. How long does the consent last for and can I revoke consent if I do not want to continue?

A. Consent is provided for the duration of this year's program, and families can revoke consent at any time by emailing covidtesting@lincnet.org. If you no longer want to participate in the at-home testing, please also email covidtesting@lincnet.org.



Q. If I have received a COVID-19 vaccine can I still participate?

A. Yes! Having received a COVID-19 vaccination does not cause false positives, and continuing to participate after receiving the vaccination provides a useful mitigation against the possibility of asymptomatic infection after vaccination (as no vaccine is 100% effective).



Q. If I have previously tested positive for COVID-19, can I still participate in weekly safety check testing?

A. After testing positive for COVID-19, you must wait 90 days to return to weekly in-school PCR pool safety check testing and at-home testing in order to avoid false positives.