Dear Calais School Department Families,
Calais Elementary School, Calais Middle/High School, and Calais Alternative School will be adding a new strategy to our COVID-19 prevention measures this year; voluntary “pooled testing”. Pooled testing means that students and staff in a classroom will have a COVID-19 test (PCR) once a week. Students participating in pooled testing will not need to be quarantined from school if they are considered close contacts of a positive case, as long as they do not have symptoms. Pooled testing is a voluntary program, and all testing is free. Parents must sign a consent form in order for their child to participate. We believe pooled testing will be an important part of keeping classrooms safe and will greatly reduce the amount of days any student will need to be out of school in quarantine.
HERE IS HOW POOLED TESTING WORKS
One day per week, each student who is enrolled in the program will do a self nasal swab in class (younger students may need help getting started and will be monitored). Each child will be given a swab, and they will put it just inside each nostril, and then all of the swabs for the class will be placed into one testing tube.
The tube will be sent to a lab. In about 48 hours, the nurse will see the results of the test. If the tube, or “pool”, is negative, nothing needs to be done. The class will continue to be tested on a regular weekly basis.
If a tube is positive, each person in that group must have another test. The nurse will do a rapid “BinaxNOW” test at school. Each student that has a negative test can return to class
Any student who is positive must stay in the isolation room and their parent/guardian will be notified. The parent must come to school to pick up their child. A student who is positive for COVID cannot stay in school and cannot ride the bus home. Please have a plan to pick up your child from school during school hours in the event your child becomes ill. Please be sure the school has your most up to date contact information.
Following our current CDC guidelines, anyone who is a close contact of a positive case and is NOT part of pooled testing, will need to be quarantined for 10 days. A COVID test is recommended 5-7 days from exposure.
Any student who is a close contact and IS participating in pooled testing, can continue to come to school as long as they do not have symptoms of COVID. Students who are part of pooled testing may continue to come to school because they are being tested weekly for COVID, however at this time may only participate in school based activities (not community based such as recreation programs).
IMPORTANT: Any student who has symptoms of COVID-regardless if they are a part of pooled testing or not- must stay home until symptoms have resolved and/or they have been cleared by their physician.
BinaxNOW Antigen Testing Information:
This year, CES has opted into a State of Maine program that will allow us to use Abbott BinaxNOW Ag(antigen) tests to test staff and students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 at school at no cost to families. This test provides results in 15 minutes. The BinaxNOW permission form will be valid for one year, stay in your child’s health file, and only be used if testing is needed (and for follow ups to a positive pool test if needed). School nurses will share your child’s results with you and your child’s primary care physician if needed. We will only use this test for students/staff who have signed consent on file and who develop some of the following signs and symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day:
Fever, cough, fatigue, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, diarrhea, muscle aches
In the event that BinaxNOW testing needs to take place at school due to symptoms:
Students will be supervised by a nurse with self-swab or the nurse will perform the swab as necessary. The school nurse will be in communication with the parent/guardian of anyone tested and results will be shared at that time. CDC guidance will be followed for a positive result.
Students who do not have completed forms on file cannot be tested at school, which may affect their ability to attend school and other school related activities.
Symptomatic students will be sent home and will still be required to meet return to school guidelines as appropriate.
Parents/guardians that opt out of school testing will need to arrange testing through their PCP or other testing site if directed to do so by the Maine CDC and return to school guidelines.
Consent forms will be sent home with back to school packets and we strongly encourage you to fill them out as soon as possible. Our goal is to start testing mid September. Please do not hesitate to contact the school for any questions or concerns.