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COVID-19 Surveillance Testing

This fall, the Vermont Department of Health is offering no-cost COVID-19 surveillance testing to students and staff in Vermont schools. It is the strong recommendation of the Health Department that districts/schools participate in this testing to support in-person learning, including extracurricular activities, and monitor for the presence of COVID-19 among the largest unvaccinated population in our state. This page contains resources and FAQ for Vermont districts and schools.

For staff-specific information, please visit our COVID-19 Surveillance Testing for School Staff web page.

Program Overview

Introduction - CIC Health Testing

The program for the 2021-22 school year will be run through the state’s testing vendor, CIC Health, which will be working directly with a point of contact within each district/school.

The tests themselves: self-administered nasal swabs – will be familiar to those who participated in teacher/staff testing during 2020-21.

Frequency: School surveillance testing will take place weekly (this may be adjusted to bi-weekly depending on resources and capacity).

Eligibility: All students and staff ages 5 and up, regardless of vaccination status, will be eligible for testing.

Testing will be opt-in at the student level. In order for your program to be successful, we encourage you to proactively reach out to your community to collect and record parental consent for testing using a consent form from CIC Health. We will ask districts/schools to collect and record parental consent for testing using a consent form from CIC Health.

Registration: Unlike the school staff testing last year, there will be no registration necessary for this testing program. Test vials will come pre-marked with a barcode sticker. Once a student has completed their test, a staff member will use a provided barcode scanner to associate the test with the student’s name in a web-based testing system.

Costs: There is no cost to schools or districts for the tests. However, the district/school will need to provide staff time to coordinate and complete the testing. For the districts, these staffing costs are allowable cost under the ESSER funds.
The state will pay for the cost of shipping if schools or districts agree to test on a particular day of the week. The tests will then be picked up by a courier service, at no cost to the school or district. 

Testing Coordinator: CIC Health and the state will ask you to designate a single point of contact to work directly with CIC Health on the testing program. This person does not need to have any health or medical qualifications. They will be asked to coordinate testing logistics for your district/school and communicate with your individual schools as needed.

How to Participate in Surveillance Testing

  1. Identify which staff on your team will be the designated point of contact with CIC Health
  2. Complete the Fall Student COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Intent to Participate - SU/SDs and Independent Schools webform.
  3. Complete CIC Health webinars and trainings.
  4. Distribute the CIC Health COVID-19 Testing for Schools Consent webpage to parents. 
  5. Partner with CIC Health to obtain barcode scanners and access to testing system.
  6. Partner with CIC Health to schedule testing dates.

FAQ for Students, Families and Staff

Who is eligible to test?

All students and staff ages 5 and up, regardless of vaccination status, will be eligible for testing. 

Are students required to participate in the testing program?

No. Testing will be opt-in at the student level. We will ask districts/schools to collect and record parental consent for testing using a consent form from CIC Health.

What will happen on testing day?

Your District Covid Coordinator and/or Superintendent will have identified a time and place for students and staff to take their COVID-19 test.

Do I need to quarantine while waiting for results?

No. This testing is asymptomatic, surveillance testing and students and staff do not need to quarantine while they wait for results. 

Who will administer the test?

These tests are self-administered, meaning that students and staff will be collecting their own sample by swabbing their nostrils. The sampling does not need to be observed by a health care professional, but schools may have an identified location and process for testing.

How will results be communicated?

Results will be available to students and parents via a private login to a personal testing portal. In the event of a positive test, the family will receive a call from the Vermont Department of Health.

If the case is determined to have been infectious while at school, the district/school administration will be notified, and the school will be offered additional follow up testing in the following days.

The number of positive tests will be reported in the Health Department's statewide and county-by-county daily case totals.

What do the test results “Inconclusive” and “Test Not Processed” mean? Do staff or students 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 genetic material for a clear result. Inconclusive results can sometimes occur at the beginning or end of an individual’s illness, when the genetic 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.

Can students and staff who have received one or both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine participate in the surveillance testing program?

Yes. All students and staff over the age of five are eligible to participate in the surveillance testing program regardless of vaccination status and are encouraged to do so.

Does a medical professional need to administer the test for students aged 5-7?

No, an update has been made to the previous process and self-administered tests are now allowable for all students aged five and up.

How do I give consent for my student to be tested?

Go to the CIC Health COVID-19 Testing for Schools Consent webpage.