On campus COVID testing
Dear Gordon Families:
Over the past month, 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 will join this effort by offering tests on campus. This will not only support the increased testing statewide, it will also give Gordon another valuable tool to keep the virus from spreading on campus.
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 asymptomatic at school.
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.
Nurse Horton has already been trained in the process, and she gave her first on-campus test Monday afternoon to Tom Cicatiello. It was simple, fast, and non-invasive.
Here are the next steps, followed by answers to some initial questions we expect parents will have:
Testing for faculty and staff
We will start the program with a cycle of testing for faculty and staff beginning on Friday, January 15th and will continue testing the week of the 18th on Wednesday and Friday. Faculty and staff can fill out the consent form in the portal at www.gordonschool.org/facultylogin
the week of January 25th
Testing for faculty, staff, and eighth grade
Student testing will begin with eighth graders while we work to finetune our process. The goal is to have the capacity to test all students, faculty and staff every two weeks.
the week of February 1st
Testing continues for faculty, staff, and Nursery to eighth grade students
We will evaluate how our program is meeting our testing goals and the impact on staffing and other resources and make any necessary tweaks or changes.
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 you do not hear from the school on the day your child is tested, their results were negative. 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.
All of the information in this email will be posted to www.gordonschool.org/testing for your reference.
Gordon is pleased to be offering COVID-19 testing to our on-campus community. I am proud of our state for creating this opportunity and grateful to Nurse Horton and our faculty and staff for being nimble enough to take full advantage of the program.
I hope you, and all of our families, faculty, staff and students are able to recognize the role on campus testing can have in this positive trend. We are not out of the woods, but the path is indeed getting clearer.
Thank you for your continued partnership in this journey.