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COVID-19 Testing - In School PCR Testing

In addition to antigen tests for the use in the Test to Stay program, schools can also make use of PCR kits provided by CIC (also known as “white label” kits) to provide on in school, on demand PCR tests. These PCR white label kits are the same kits used in Surveillance Testing and utilizes the same Binx registration system as well. In effect a school can have one supply of white label kits on hand for either purpose, on demand PCR tests or surveillance tests.  

In school, on demand PCR tests can meet a variety of needs, including testing students out of quarantine, testing of close contacts of a positive case, or as a confirmatory test for a symptomatic person that has a negative antigen test. 

Who can participate?

  • Students (ages 5 and up) and staff, regardless of vaccination status. 
  • Symptomatic (if testing in school prior to sending symptomatic person home) or asymptomatic close contacts. 
  • Schools may administer the tests to individual students/staff, to groups of students, or to the entire school or multiple classrooms, grade levels as necessary/applicable. 
  • Limited to those within the school community because the data reporting will be used to understand positivity rates within the school (see Test Type 3: Take Home Test Kits for information on test kits for family members or others in the community). 

When should we use In-School PCR Response Tests? 

  • To test a symptomatic person if an antigen test is not available  
  • As a confirmatory test if a symptomatic person has a negative antigen test 
  • To test close contacts out of quarantine on day 7 after exposure if Take Home Test Kits (see Test Type 3) are not available or this is a more efficient option. 
  • Test event in response to positive cases in the school community. For example, a school may decide to hold a test event because a large number of close contacts have been identified and need to test out of quarantine on the same day or because VDH has identified that there is community spread within a school. 

How does it work?

  • Schools prepare, register, and administer the tests using the Binx registration system
  • Participants complete a self-administered PCR nasal swab on school campus with testing supervised by school staff or district or state-provided testing resources
  • Test kits are shipped using prelabeled, prepaid boxes provided by the state using UPS  and delivered to the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts for processing. Schools may also arrange for a courier service to pick up, but will have to pay for those shipping costs
  • Results are communicated to the Vermont Department of Health, families and schools through the Binx software platform
  • Schools/districts utilize the CIC and Binx platforms for logistics and administration. 

Test type:

  • Binx “white label” PCR test kit

Recommended Use Cases:

  • In elementary, middle and high schools where the vaccination rate is less than 80%:  
    • Confirmatory In School PCR Response tests are recommended for symptomatic students with negative antigen test results prior to sending the student home. 
    • Test unvaccinated close contacts out of quarantine.  
    • Recommended PCR test for vaccinated students who are close contacts of a positive case 3-5 days after exposure. 
    • Test events in case of positive cases within the community. ​
  • Middle and high schools with vaccination rates greater than 80%: ​
    • Strongly recommended: PCR test for unvaccinated students/staff who shared a classroom, space or activity with a COVID-19 positive individual.
    • Optional: PCR test for vaccinated students/staff who shared a classroom, space or activity with a COVID-19 positive individual.