On campus COVID testing

above: on campus COVID testing had just begun for students, and the eighth grade Student Leadership Co-Presidents created this short video to help explain the process to younger students.


Since December, one of the major changes in the fight against COVID-19 in Rhode Island has been the push for more testing - for people who are symptomatic, but also for people who are not showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Tests are now widely available for everyone, and the state of Rhode Island is making on-campus testing available to public and independent schools.

Gordon has joined this effort by offering tests on campus. This not only supports the increased testing statewide, it also gives Gordon another valuable tool to keep the virus from spreading on campus.

Thank you to the many of you who have already signed up your children up to participate. If you have not yet signed up, you may still do so in the parent portal at www.gordonschool.org/parentlogin

The testing program we are participating in was designed by the Department of Health specifically to detect people who are positive for COVID-19 but do not show symptoms.

This testing is not meant to replace the current process in which people who have COVID symptoms get tested and diagnosed. This is an additional process, meant to identify cases among people on Gordon's campus who do not have symptoms.

January 15th
Testing for faculty and staff
A cycle of testing for faculty and staff began on Friday, January 15th. Faculty and staff can fill out the consent form in the portal at www.gordonschool.org/facultylogin

January 27th
Testing for eighth graders
The eighth graders will be stepping up as compassionate leaders by getting tested first this Thursday. The eighth grade co-presidents are working on a video for younger students explaining the process. 

the week of February 2nd
Testing for the rest of the school will begin the following week:
  Tuesday, February 2nd: seventh grade
  Wednesday, February 3rd: sixth grade
  Thursday, February 4th: fifth grade and fourth grades
  Friday, February 5th: third grade

...with the younger grades beginning the week of February 8th. You will hear from your child's teacher before their first test.

We will try to repeat this two-week schedule although spring break, days off, snow days and occasional unexpected challenges may interfere. We will adjust the schedule as needed. The goal will continue to be to have each grade tested once every two weeks. 

Questions and answers 

What kind of test is it?

This is the BinaxNOW test with a rapid result. If you've had different COVID tests, you will be glad to hear that this is the less invasive test, which extends into the nose no further than the soft tip of a Q-Tip would. If you are curious about the test and the process, please read this fact-packed overview by Brown University economics professor Emily Oster.

Who will administer it?

The tests will be administered by Nurse Horton and the team of part-time nurses that have been assisting her all year.

Is this mandatory?

No. This program will be much more effective if every family participates, but it is not mandatory. We are hoping everyone will join in, for the benefit of the community at large, on campus and across the state.

Is it safe?

Yes. The test will be administered by professionals in full personal protective gear in a well-ventilated space. Children will have their masks off for less than a minute as the test is administered.

How will children be prepared for the test?

While classroom teachers will help to prepare students before testing, you should talk to your child about the test when you give consent. The test itself will be quick and straightforward (five swab circles in each nostril), and Nurse Horton will be a friendly and familiar face close by. If your child is especially nervous, or you feel they will need additional support while being tested, please reach out to the classroom teacher or Nurse Horton.

Will I know when my child is having the test?

You will find out details of your child's testing from Nurse Horton before your child's first test. You can expect your child to be tested every other week following that. Because the schoolwide logistics are complex, the date and time of your child's test may not be the same week to week. You will not receive prior notice every time your child is tested, but you can always reach out to Health Services if you have a question.

How will I find out my child's results?

If your child tests positive, you will hear from Nurse Horton immediately. Your child will go to the Home Zone in Health Services and will need to be picked up as soon as possible. As with every positive case in the student community, Gordon will be available to provide guidance and support as you navigate the next steps in caring for your child.

If your child's test comes back negative, you will receive an email confirming that fact. You might get an additional notification from the Department of Health if your child tests negative.

What happens if my child's classmate tests positive?

A quick and efficient protocol has been developed to isolate any positive cases that may occur and move them, as well as the close contacts (i.e., the students and teachers in the grade), off campus as soon as possible. This process is based on several instances from the fall, when we learned about some student's close contact status during the school day.

Do we still have to do the safety app and check for symptoms in the morning?

Yes! As stated above, this testing program is not meant to replace the current process in which people who have COVID symptoms get tested and diagnosed. This is an additional process, meant to identify cases among people who do not have symptoms. Do not send your child to school if they have symptoms, even if they passed the test the day before.

Does the on-campus testing change anything about quarantine protocols?

No! For instance: it is Gordon's policy to send close contacts and siblings of close contacts home. Close contacts must quarantine for at least ten days. Neither close contacts nor their siblings can take the BINAXNow test to return to school. They must get a PCR test. The BINAXNow test is not a screening tool. It is a surveillance tool. In other words, BINAXNow can send your child home. Only a PCR can bring them back.

What do I have to do to sign up?

Consent forms are in the parent portal at www.gordonschool.org/parentlogin. Families can provide or withdraw consent at any time, as long as it is in writing. The forms are structured so that you only need to provide consent once in order to participate through the remainder of the school year.