Beginning the week of November 16, 2020, the State of Vermont is offering surveillance COVID-19 testing to school staff in public schools and some large independent schools in Vermont. This page contains resources and FAQ related to testing. For an introduction to the surveillance testing initiative, please read Secretary French's letter to Vermont Educators introducing the program.
- Phase 2 COVID-19 School Staff Testing Groups
- Vermont Department of Health COVID-19 Specimen Collection CIC Health/Broad Testing Guide
- COVID-19 Surveillance Testing: How to Collect a Nasal Swab Sample
- Letter from Sec. French to Vermont Educators RE: School Staff Surveillance Testing
- Survey: Vermont School Staff Surveillance Testing, Unused Test Kits
- Technical Assistance Session for COVID-19 Coordinators and School Administration - Slides (1/8/21)
- School Staff COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Weekly Summary
- Registering for School Staff COVID-19 Surveillance Testing: Updated Procedure
- School Staff Resource Page
School Testing: Checking in a Testing Attendee - This video is for school staff who will be on-site testing day checking in completed tests
Registering for Teacher and Staff COVID-19 Surveillance Testing via Single Link Registration - This video is for all staff and walks through the process of registering for testing, updated Jan. 21, 2021
What will happen on testing day?
On your testing date, you will receive a shipment of test kits and labels from the State of Vermont at the address you provided via the Vermont School Staff Surveillance Testing online form. These will be delivered through a partnership between the Vermont National Guard and the Vermont Agency of Transportation. If you are conducting tests at multiple locations, district staff will then need to deliver kits and labels to those additional testing locations.
Testing will need to be conducted throughout the day, with all completed tests received and logged in time to be packed and shipped overnight to the lab via UPS or similar carrier. Shipping to the lab will be the responsibility of the SU/independent school.
Will staff need to quarantine while waiting for results?
No. This testing is asymptomatic, surveillance testing and staff do not need to quarantine while they wait for results.
Who will administer the test?
These tests are self-administered, meaning that staff will be collecting their own sample by swabbing their nostrils. The sampling does not need to be observed by a health care professional.
Are these tests PCR tests or Antigen tests?
They are PCR tests.
Can contracted service providers participate in testing?
Contracted service providers who work in the building on a daily basis (i.e. food service) are included in the testing.
How will results be communicated to staff?
Negative results will be delivered via email to the individual staff member. Positive results will be communicated via phone call. Any staff with a positive result will be advised to isolate, given guidance on next steps and put in touch with a contact tracer. The district will be notified directly by the Health Department only if that person was in school while infectious. Expected turnaround for test results is three days.
The number of positive tests will be reported in the Health Department's statewide and county-by-county daily case totals.
What PPE is required for the staff receiving completed test kits?
Individuals handling and receiving completed tests should wear gloves and a cloth face mask. The process of collecting the specimen will require that an individual blow their nose and then swab their own nostrils. Each person should complete this process in a location where they can be more than six feet away from other people, including the people receiving the completed tests.
Can staff who do not live in Vermont participate in the testing?
Yes. The public health goal of the testing is to understand COVID-19 activity in our communities, and when they work in Vermont out-of-state residents are part of our community.
How can we make sure when distributing unused test kits that we are distributing to staff who have registered for testing?
With your shipment of tests and labels you will receive a printed list of all registrants for each site. Use that list to check off as staff pick up/receive their test kits.
What if something goes wrong when someone is taking the test and it is no longer usable?
The Health Department will include extra swabs with the test kits. The Vermont Department of Health COVID-19 Specimen Collection CIC Health/Broad Testing Guide details situations where someone taking a test should be given a new swab to collect a new specimen.
Can my independent school participate in testing?
Not at this time. Public school staff, as well as a handful of large, geographically distributed independent schools, have been selected for this surveillance testing as part of a larger public health strategy. They represent a large group of individuals in an organized setting who are proportionally situated throughout Vermont and reflect the makeup of our communities. This makes them an ideal population to provide a clear, statewide picture of COVID-19 activity. Unfortunately, the large number of independent schools coupled with their small size and various organizational structures means that they are not ideal candidates to be part of this surveillance testing initiative.
Please continue to reassure your staff that this testing program does not reflect the belief that school staff – independent or public – are at a particularly high risk for contracting COVID-19. If they are concerned and want to get tested, The Department of Health is continuing to add pop-up testing capacity around the state. Staff can visit the Health Department’s testing site to find a testing location near them.
If we need to discard used swabs due to the need to retest, does that require biohazard precautions?
No. Used swabs can be discarded in the regular trash. Our colleagues at the Health Department compared it to throwing away a used tissue.
What do the test results “Inconclusive” and “Test Not Processed” mean? Do I need to get another test or quarantine?
A result of “Test Not Processed” occurs when a sample cannot be analyzed. Reasons may include a damaged label, or samples that include too much blood or mucus. This result does not mean that the test is positive and the individual does not need to take any additional precautions beyond the health guidance already in place, but we do encourage testers to seek out a local test site to get retested.
A result of “Inconclusive” occurs when a sample was able to be analyzed, but there was an insufficient amount of viral material for a clear result. Inconclusive results can sometimes occur at the beginning or end of an individual’s illness, when the viral load is too low for detection. However, recipients of an “Inconclusive” result who are asymptomatic do not need to quarantine or take additional precautions beyond the recommendations in the health guidance.
Due to some positive cases this week in our schools, we have a number of staff in quarantine. Could they use their test on Tuesday to test out of quarantine since it’s already scheduled and they are having a hard time getting a test?
Testing out of quarantine may occur if the person is asymptomatic and the specimen is collected at least 7 days after the last exposure date. For example, if the only exposure occurred on 12/1, the specimen may not be collected earlier than 12/8. The person must wait to receive the negative result before resuming non-quarantine activities and must continue to remain asymptomatic for the full 14 days.
When can school staff participate in the surveillance testing program again after a positive COVID-19 test?
- Staff should not participate in a surveillance testing event if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. If they are symptomatic, they should stay home and arrange a test through their health care provider.
- Staff who have had a previous positive COVID-19 test through surveillance or non-surveillance testing can participate in the surveillance testing program again 90 days after their positive test.
Can districts include student teachers in the surveillance testing program?
Yes, student teachers can be included in surveillance testing at the discretion of the superintendent.
Can districts include substitute teachers in ths surveillance testing program?
Can staff who have received one or both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine participate in the surveillance testing program?
At this time, yes.