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COVID-19 Assurance Testing

As we continue working through the beginning of our hybrid learning model,  I have some exciting news to share about our efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19, and keep our schools open and staff and students healthy. 

As a school district and as individuals we have all been doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. From social distancing and mask wearing, to more difficult decisions like not seeing family over the holidays, and moving to virtual learning, the efforts we make on a daily basis help to keep ourselves, our coworkers and students safe. 

In recent weeks, the district worked to add a new tool in our Coronavirus toolbox - assurance testing, which means that Upper Perkiomen School District staff (including substitutes) have been given the opportunity to access weekly rapid tests to detect COVID-19 antigens.  The district is proud to work collaboratively with the county to develop this program, which is in partnership with the Montgomery County Office of Public Health, and is supported by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The district conducted pilot testing for staff the week of January 25th, and aims for full implementation on February 8, 2021. 

The next phase of expanding district efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 would be to offer students who passed the daily wellness screener and are participating in-person programming and/or athletics that become ill during the school day the opportunity to access testing using the BinaxNow rapid antigen test. The test the district will use is a presumptive nasal swab test which means it only indicates the presence of the COVID-19 virus. If a student receives a positive result, he or she must  follow quarantine procedures until a confirmatory (molecular) test can be performed at one of the county testing locations. 

The benefits for participation of symptomatic students who have consent on record are: 

  1. Families will not need to seek outside testing to return to school if a child becomes ill at school
  2. If the presence of the COVID-19 antigen can be ruled out at school, students will not need to be excluded from school longer than is necessary to recover from their non-COVID-19 related illness.   

Several district administrators and the school nurses have been trained, and worked collaboratively with the Montgomery County Office of Public Health and CHOP Officials to coordinate these testing efforts. Essential to the provision of symptomatic student testing is the process of obtaining parent/guardian consent for a child to participate. No student will have access to testing, unless both phases of consent are complete. 

The phases of consent to participate in the district symptomatic testing program include:

1. Declaration of Participation in Skyward
In Skyward, parents/guardians must select their consent for participation by selecting the YES or NO option in the system.

2. QR Code Development
A key component for participating in the testing program is the development of a personal QR Code for each child. In order to participate in the program, parents must follow the directions below to establish each child’s personal QR Code. This QR must be available in order for the student to be tested. Once developed, parents should print a hard copy of the QR Code for each child and submit it to the school nurse who will keep it on file should testing be necessary. Older children who have a personal electronic device can save a screenshot on their device to present to the nurse should testing be necessary. 

While we understand this is new territory for all of us, the ability to conduct assurance testing on staff and have rapid tests results for students that are ill has the capacity to profoundly affect the district’s ability to minimize the exposure and impact of the virus on our school community. Participation of students is completely voluntary, though we are hopeful that many children participate in the efforts of the district and county to curb this public health crisis, while enhancing the safety of our school community. You can watch this video outlining the testing procedures. 

To ensure that families have plenty of time to consider this opportunity, we will open the Skyward Declaration and QR Code Submission today, February 2, 2021, and ask that all families complete the declarations and submit QR Codes by Friday, February 12, 2021. 
The directions to registering for a QR Code are outlined below.

QR CODE Directions:  

  1. Click https://register.pennrapidtest.org/ or enter this url into your web browser (the app is not compatible with Internet Explorer but should work on most other web browsers).​​
  2. Follow instructions to create a personalized QR code.
  3. ​​Take a screengrab of the QR code and store it in your device; or, cut/paste the screen grab onto a Word .doc, and print it out.
  4. ​​You may create as many personalized QR codes as you wish – each time you create a new one, you’ll enter your demographic data; but each time you use that QR code in the app at a testing event, your demographic data will pre-populate.

As a district we are extremely proud of the work staff has invested to implement the assurance testing program district-wide. But, most importantly, we are thrilled that we can take this preventative measure in helping to keep everyone safe and healthy. The district asks that you please complete both phases of the consent process by Friday February 12, 2021. 

As we enter the second half of this unprecedented school year, I want to once again thank you for your support and urge you to stay healthy and remember, “we are all in this together!”

Questions about Assurance Testing may be directed to assistant superintendent & pandemic coordinator D. Andrea J. Farina at afarina@upsd.org