FAQ
  • Frequently Asked Questions for the COVID-19 Testing Program & Reporting Positive Results to DESE, 

    August 24, 2021, updated September 22, 2021

    Edited down by Emily Kadehjian on 9/24/2021 to include questions that will be most relevant to parents (versus COVID Testing Staff).

    Dedham Public Schools specific FAQs added on 9/24/2021

    DESE vs DPS-specific FAQs noted with (DESE) or (DPS)

General Questions

  • When I provide consent for my child to participate, where is my child’s data being stored?

    Posted by:

    When you sign the consent form, data including your child’s name, DOB, gender, race, ethnicity, address, parent name, and parent phone number are entered into CIC-Health’s secure platform (our vendor).  These data will be stored and shared in accordance with HIPAA rules.

    Given our testing modality, CIC-Health does not know whose samples are included in the pools; those data are located on the secure Dedham Public School network.  The only people that have access to the pool assignment data are the Site Coordinators (school secretaries & nurses), Principals, and the District COVID Testing Coordinator.  We use these data to contact individuals in the event the pooled test comes back with a positive result and we need to arrange follow-up testing.

    (DPS)

    Comments (-1)
  • Can public school districts mandate COVID-19 testing?

    Posted by:

    No, participation in testing is optional and parents/guardians must provide informed consent to participate in the program. 

    Comments (-1)
  • Is this program open to pre-K (and under) students?

    Posted by:

    District-run pre-K programs that are located in the same physical location as a K-12 school may participate in the program.  

     

    DPS:  Students in Pre-K at the ECEC and the DELTA program (located within the high school) may participate in the program.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Do schools/districts bear any costs associated with the COVID-19 testing program?

    Posted by:

    All services described in the SY22 COVID-19 Testing Program Memo, August 11, 2021 and SY22 COVID-19 Testing Program Webinar Slides, August 11, 2021 are provided free of charge to participating schools/districts. Schools and districts are responsible for any other costs associated with this testing program.

    Comments (-1)
  • Is it called "routine COVID pooled testing" or "routine COVID safety checks"?

    Posted by:

    The testing strategy known as “Pooled Testing” is now referred to by DESE as “Routine COVID Pooled Testing” for districts and schools. DESE conducted focus groups with representative groups of parents/guardians to identify barriers to participation. A key takeaway was that the phrase “pooled testing” did not engender trust – parents were led to believe that their students would be kept out of school. They equated the word “pooled” to “random” which sounded inaccurate and inefficient. Using the phrase “Routine COVID Safety Checks” produced positive reactions from the focus group. Participants found that this phrase promoted the welfare of students and was less intimidating than being “tested” each week. DESE recommends that all parent/guardian facing materials (parent letter, consent form/district website information) use this phrase, Routine COVID Safety Checks. (DESE)

    Comments (-1)
  • Can schools/districts change testing modes during the school year?

    Posted by:

    Yes. A school/district may choose to add or subtract a testing mode at any point during the school year by coordinating with their program coordinator at CIC Health.  (DESE)

    Comments (-1)
  • Can schools/districts choose different testing for different schools within a district?

    Posted by:

    Yes. A district may choose to implement different modes of the DESE testing program at different schools within a district.  (DESE)

    Comments (-1)
  • Which testing modes is Dedham participating in?

    Posted by:

    As of September 24, 2021, Dedham Public Schools is participating in Routine COVID Safety Checks (also known as “pooled testing) with consented students and staff at all locations.  ECEC students will begin Routine COVID Safety Checks on Monday, September 27, 2021.

    On September 15, 2021, the School Committee approved implementing the Test and Stay and Symptomatic Testing programs.  As of September 24, 2021, those testing programs are not yet operational across all schools.

    We are working through the results from our early pilot, addressing staffing needs, and finding solutions for other operational and logistical challenges so we can support all of the Dedham Public Schools.

    Comments (-1)
  • How many different kinds of testing are going on around the state?

    Posted by:

    There are three main components to the testing program state-wide this year.  Schools may choose to participate in any or all of these modes of testing:

    • Routine COVID Safety Checks (“pooled testing”)
    • Symptomatic Testing
    • Test and Stay 
    Comments (-1)
  • Who is the vendor that we are working with for COVID testing this year?

    Posted by:

    CIC-Health.  

    Following a competitive procurement process, EOHHS and DESE are making diagnostic and routine (weekly) COVID pooled testing services available at no cost to participating districts and schools through the end of the 2021-22 school year, under a single contract with the testing provider CIC Health.  (DESE)

    Comments (-1)

BinaxNow Questions

  • Who administers the BinaxNOW tests and Routine COVID Safety Checks? (New 9/22/21)

    Posted by:

    The Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) received for the BinaxNOW test allows it to be administered by a variety of trained professionals, including, though not limited to, school nurses. The BinaxNOW tests may not be administered through self-administration.

    All staff administering BinaxNOW test kits within a school or district must complete all BinaxNOW training modules. The BinaxNOW training modules can be found here. These modules provide a detailed step-by-step guide to the test process, and the modules should be completed in their entirety prior to staff performing test on individuals. To support training of school nurses, DPH also offers train-the-trainer educational activities to school nurse leaders. To sign up for a training session, please see the COVID-19 Testing Program section of the DESE webpage.

    Similarly, routine COVID safety checks (pooled) testing is administered at school either by trained school staff, including, though not limited to, school nurses, or onsite test specimen collectors (Level II supports). For staff and for students in grades Kindergarten and up, the test may be conducted by self-administration and observed by trained staff. CIC Health will provide any training related to the administration or observation of routine COVID safety checks. 

    Comments (-1)
  • Who administers the BinaxNOW tests and Routine COVID Safety Checks for Dedham Public Schools?

    Posted by:

    At this time, DPS substitute school nurses, school nurses, and the District COVID Testing Coordinator oversee Routine COVID Safety Checks in our schools.

    Children in Grades 1 and above are usually able to complete the nasal swab themselves.  Those in Pre-K and Kindergarten or those with special needs will be swabbed by one of the trained professionals mentioned above.

    Our school nurses administer the BinaxNOW tests.

    Comments (-1)
  • Are students and staff allowed to self-swab with the BinaxNOW tests?

    Posted by:

    No. Students and staff are not allowed to swab themselves for the BinaxNOW rapid tests used for symptomatic testing or test and stay.

    Comments (-1)
  • What are the options if BinaxNOW tests for positive pool members are all negative? (New 9/22/21)

    Posted by:

    All negative BinaxNOW tests likely indicate an individual of lower viral load that is less likely to be infectious. (See https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33622768/ for more details.)


    If this occurs, schools may either (a) conduct a second BinaxNOW test on all individuals (no sooner than the next day, but within 2 days), or (b) Retest all individuals utilizing individual PCR follow-up tests (can be done the same day). The follow-up approach when all rapid tests for positive pool members are negative is at the discretion of each school/district. As long as individuals remain asymptomatic, they may stay in school while awaiting individual follow-up test results. 

    Comments (-1)

Routine COVID Safety Checks (“Pooled Testing”) Questions

  • Who conducts Routine COVID Safety Checks (“pooled testing”) within Dedham Public Schools?

    Posted by:

    At this time, DPS substitute school nurses, school nurses, and the District COVID Testing Coordinator oversee Routine COVID Safety Checks in our schools.

    Children in Grades 1 and above are usually able to complete the nasal swab themselves.  Those in Pre-K and Kindergarten or those with special needs will be swabbed by one of the trained professionals mentioned above.

    Many schools in the state are using CIC Health Support Staff for Routine COVID Safety Checks.  At this time, Dedham has chosen to utilize internal resources only to staff this aspect of our testing program.

    Comments (-1)
  • What if I want my child to participate in testing, but they had COVID over the summer?

    Posted by:

    Please contact your school nurse.

    Comments (-1)
  • If a student previously had COVID-19, should they participate in routine COVID pooled testing?

    Posted by:

    Individuals who have previously tested positive (on an individual, not pooled, test) in the past 90 days should be excluded.  After 90 days, they should be included again in the pools. 

    Comments (-1)
  • Can a school choose which routine COVID pooled testing methodology it prefers?

    Posted by:

    Yes. A school/district may choose the routine COVID pooled testing methodology that is most appropriate for its school/district.

    (DPS) At this time, Dedham Public Schools has chosen:  Routine COVID Pooled Testing and School-Based Follow-Up Testing

    Comments (-1)
  • Where are the samples for routine COVID pooled testing processed?

    Posted by:

    The samples are processed at either the Broad Institute or Veritas Genetics.  

    (DPS) Dedham Public Schools’ samples are processed at the Broad Institute.

    Comments (-1)
  • What happens if my child is part of a positive pool?

    Posted by:

    You will receive a call from the school nurse or Principal letting you know your child is in a positive pool and instructions regarding follow-up testing.

    If the pooled testing lab results came back in the evening or early morning hours, we will likely conduct a drive-through testing line. The school nurse will approach your vehicle and perform the nasal swab on your child.  The test itself will be run inside the building.  Results are available within 15 minutes, but, pending the results, the school nurse, principal, and teachers may need to conduct contact tracing.

    Parents will be called with the results of the BinaxNOW test and contact tracing.  If your child is:

    Positive:  your child will need to stay home and begin isolation and quarantine protocols
    Negative, but a school-based close contact:  The school nurse will discuss your options:
     

    Test and Stay (when the program is up and running across the district)
     

    Traditional quarantine protocols for close contacts
    Negative, not a school-based close contact:  your child may return to class
    If results come back during the school day, students will come down to the nurse’s office for a BinaxNOW rapid antigen test.  Parents will be called with the results of the BinaxNOW test and contact tracing.

    Comments (-1)
  • How will I know the results of my child’s Routine COVID Safety Checks (“pooled tests”) each week?

    Posted by:

    No news is good news.  If you do not hear anything, it means your child’s pooled test came back negative.  If your child is in a pool that comes back with a positive result, you will get a call from the school (e.g. Principal or Nurse) explaining the need for follow-up testing.  S/he will give you the time and location for follow-up testing during that call.  If you cannot be reached via phone, you will receive an email asking you to call back as soon as possible.

    Comments (-1)
  • Does routine pooled testing even work?

    Posted by:

    Yes; the pooled test is very effective at finding COVID-19.  When compared to the “gold standard” individual PCR test (the deep nasal swab test), pooled testing gets the same result 96% of the time.

    In our own pooled testing program we have already identified positive pools and the BinaxNOW rapid antigen follow-up test helped us identify individuals with COVID-19 and activate the appropriate quarantining and contact-tracing protocols.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • My child feels fine and is not showing any signs of COVID-19, why should she/he/they test?

    Posted by:

    We know that COVID-19 can be spread by people who have it but don’t know it – they are not showing any signs or symptoms (asymptomatic).  The pooled testing can help us detect asymptomatic cases and help prevent further spread by someone who may not even realize they could be spreading COVID-19.  This is another important layer of protection for our school communities.

    Comments (-1)
  • What is the turnaround time for the routine COVID pooled tests?

    Posted by:

    The turnaround time for pooled tests is approximately 24 hours from the time of specimen collection to results being reported. 

    Comments (-1)
  • How often will my child participate in Routine COVID Safety Checks?

    Posted by:

    Once per week.

    Comments (-1)
  • What type of Routine COVID Safety Checks is Dedham doing?

    Posted by:

    Dedham Public Schools are participating in Routine COVID Pooled Testing and School-Based Follow-Up Testing: a single sample is collected at school; If a pool is positive, follow-up testing at school with either BinaxNOW and/or individual PCR testing as necessary​ (if the BinaxNOW does not detect a positive individual in a positive pool)

    • Samples are collected through a nasal swab
    • Samples must be collected at school. Students may collect through observed self-collection
    • Samples are processed at the Broad Institute
    • A maximum of ten samples are included in each pool
    Comments (-1)
  • What type of testing methodologies are available for routine pooled testing?

    Posted by:

    There are three testing methodologies offered for routine pooled testing: 

     

    1. Routine COVID Pooled Testing and School-Based Follow-Up Testing: a single sample is collected at school; If a pool is positive, follow-up testing at school with either BinaxNOW and/or individual PCR testing as necessary​ (if the BinaxNOW does not detect a positive individual in a positive pool)
      • Samples are collected through a nasal swab
      • Samples must be collected at school. Students may collect through observed self-collection
      • Samples are processed at the Broad Institute
      • A maximum of ten samples are included in each pool

     

    1. Routine COVID Pooled Testing and Lab-Based Follow-Up Testing – single sample collection: a single sample is collected; If a pool is positive, individual Follow-Up testing occurs at the lab, without a second sample collection
      • Samples are collected through a saliva sample
      • Samples may be collected at home
      • Samples are processed at Veritas Genetics
      • A maximum of five samples are included in each pool; samples are submitted individually and pooled at the lab

     

    1. Routine COVID Pooled Testing and Lab-Based Follow-Up Testing – two sample collection: two samples are collected at school, after which both specimens are transported to the laboratory; If a pool is positive, individual Follow-Up testing occurs at the lab using the second sample originally collected.
      • Samples are collected through a nasal swab
      • Samples must be collected at school. Students may collect through observed self-collection
      • Samples are processed at the Broad Institute
      • A maximum of ten samples are included in each pool
    Comments (-1)

Testing Consent Questions

  • I want my child to participate in Test & Stay and Symptomatic Testing only, Why can't I pick only 2?

    Posted by:

    DESE encourages schools/districts to acquire consent for all three modes of testing, rather than just one or two. In the event that a school/district decides to add a component of the DESE COVID-19 testing program at a later date, the school will not need to acquire additional consent. 

    We have heard feedback from parents and understand the frustration here.  We are actively working on a “pick and choose” consent option, but it is not yet in place (as of September 24, 2021).

    Your child can always refuse to participate in Routine COVID Safety Checks (“pooled testing”).   There are no disciplinary repercussions for refusing to test.  

    We realize this option of refusal is much easier at the high school level (your child just does not show up for pooled testing).  It is much harder to coach your 1st grader to say to an authority figure (e.g. substitute school nurse) “No; I don’t pooled test.”

    We are actively working on a solution.

    Comments (-1)
  • Is there an option for parents to consent to only one mode of testing, rather than all three?

    Posted by:

    (Updated 9/22/21)

    DESE encourages schools/districts to acquire consent for all three modes of testing, rather than just one or two. In the event that a school/district decides to add a component of the DESE COVID-19 testing program at a later date, the school will not need to acquire additional consent. 

    If a district/school would like to allow individuals to select specific testing modes, then the district must collect a paper-based consent (as the CIC software platform does not allow for this option), and the district/school must track the selected testing modes locally. It is not the responsibility of the testing provider or specimen collectors to maintain this list. 

    Comments (-1)
  • Can consent be acquired at any time, or only at the beginning of the school year?

    Posted by:

    Consent may be acquired at any point in the school year. DESE strongly recommends sending this consent form home with other back-to-school materials to acquire consent as early as possible.

    Comments (-1)
  • Can consent be “opt out”?

    Posted by:

    No, parent/guardians must actively consent to participate in testing. Since the process involves collecting a sample directly from individuals, parents/guardians must provide informed consent for all testing. 

    Comments (-1)
  • Can the consent forms be completed electronically?

    Posted by:

    Yes. Consent forms may be completed electronically through an electronic platform managed by the school (e.g., the school’s student information system or other similar program) or through the software platform provided by CIC Health. 

    DPS prefers families consent via the CIC Health online consent form: https://www.cic-health.com/consent/ma?district=null

    Comments (-1)
  • Do we have to seek parental consent every time we administer a component of the testing proram?

    Posted by:

    No. Schools/districts must only acquire consent once for all testing conducted through the DESE testing program.

    Comments (-1)
  • If families consented to testing for the previous school year, does the District need new Consent?

    Posted by:

    Yes. A school/district must re-acquire consent for SY21-22. 

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Are the consent forms for the SY21-22 DESE testing program the same as the ones used for SY20-21?

    Posted by:

    No. The consent forms for SY21-22 are different, and all individuals will need to re-consent to testing for the upcoming school year. The new consent form allows for schools/districts to acquire consent for all three modes of testing – symptomatic, test and stay, and routine COVID pooled testing – through one form.

    Comments (-1)
  • Where can I find the consent form?

    Posted by:

    The online consent form is here:  

    https://www.cic-health.com/consent/ma?district=null

    Please be sure to select “Dedham” as the district and to select your child’s correct school (it defaults to the ECEC).  Also, please use your child’s given name (not nick names) when completing the consent form.

    If you prefer a hard copy or need a translated version, those documents can be printed from the Dedham Public Schools website and returned to your school secretary:

    https://www.dedham.k12.ma.us/Page/2597

    Comments (-1)

Public Reporting Questions

Test & Stay at DPS Questions

  • What is the Test and Stay program?

    Posted by:

    The Test and Stay program is a testing initiative intended for asymptomatic school-based close contacts of individuals with confirmed COVID-19. This testing program will allow asymptomatic school-based close contacts to remain in school if they receive an individual rapid antigen test (e.g. BinaxNOW) each school day and test negative, as well as follow other guidelines as outlined below.

    Duration of Test and Stay: 7 days from the date of exposure

    (Note:  We do not test at school on weekends.  If your child’s 7th day falls on a Sunday, he/she/they would have their last Test and Stay test on Monday morning)

    Return to School: Close contacts can remain in school, as long as they: 

    • Are asymptomatic 
    • Wear masks in school at all times, other than when eating or drinking. When these individuals cannot be masked (i.e., when eating or drinking) they should maintain 3 feet of distance from other individuals to the extent feasible. 
    • Take a rapid antigen test (e.g., BinaxNOW) on each school day and receive a negative result. When the 7 days from date of exposure includes weekends or holidays, individuals should quarantine on weekends, and if they remain asymptomatic, upon return to school be tested immediately. If the individual remains negative, they can stay in school.
    • Conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate at home if symptoms develop. 

    Individuals who are part of the Test and Stay protocols may be eligible to participate in school sports and extracurricular activities, provided that they are in compliance with the applicable protocol. For events and sports that take place on non-school days, testing will still be required on those days to participate. 

    As part of Test and Stay, quarantine is still strongly recommended for individuals outside of school settings/hours (e.g. no piano lessons, birthday parties, neighborhood play, town soccer games, etc.).

    Please remember, your child is still a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID-19. This is why it is still important to quarantine outside of the school setting/hours, conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate at home if symptoms develop. 

    Comments (-1)
  • How many days is Test and Stay? I’ve heard 5 days and I’ve heard 7 days.

    Posted by:

    The duration of Test and Stay is 7 days from the date of exposure.  We do not test at school on weekends.  If your child’s 7th day falls on a Sunday, he/she/they would have the last Test and Stay test on Monday morning.

    Comments (-1)
  • Our daughter has COVID, but our son is asymptomatic, can he do Test &Stay and keep going to school?

    Posted by:

    No.  The Test and Stay program is for school-based close contacts only; not household close contacts.  This is due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 within households.

    Comments (-1)
  • My child is in a school-based activity on the weekend. Can they participate if they Test & Stay?

    Posted by:

    Yes.  The school nurse will issue an eMed test for the individual to take home on the last day of school prior to the activity, and take the test on the same day as, but prior to arriving at, the event. If the test is negative the individual should show the negative result to school staff (coaches, band leader, etc) at the event, and is cleared to participate. The individual should remain masked. If the test is positive, the individual should be treated as a positive case. 

    It is your child’s responsibility to pick up the eMed test from the nurse’s office.  No other test can be used for this program.

    Comments (-1)
  • Can asymptomatic close contact students participating in the Test and Stay program ride the bus?

    Posted by:

    Per DESE guidance, yes.

    Comments (-1)
  • My child plays school-based sports. Can they play in a game over the weekend if doing Test & Stay?

    Posted by:

    Yes.  The school nurse will issue an eMed test for the individual to take home on the last day of school prior to the activity, and take the test on the same day as, but prior to arriving at, the event. If the test is negative the individual should show the negative result to school staff (coaches, etc) at the event, and is cleared to participate. The individual should remain masked. If the test is positive, the individual should be treated as a positive case. 

    It is your child’s responsibility to pick up the eMed test from the nurse’s office.  No other test can be used for this program.

    Comments (-1)
  • I want my child to participate in Test and Stay, but not pooled testing. Can you do that?

    Posted by:

    Dedham Public Schools is actively working out a solution to make this possible.  At this time, DESE and the vendor, CIC-Health do NOT have a software-based solution that enables parents to pick and choose which parts of the COVID-19 testing program your child will participate in (e.g. Pooled Testing, Symptomatic Testing, and/or Test and Stay).  As such, DPS is creating an administrative process for removing consented students from specific pooled testing lists; it is not yet ready at this time.

    Comments (-1)
  • Do individuals need to maintain physical distance while participating in Test and Stay?

    Posted by:

    The Test and Stay program allows asymptomatic close contacts to remain in school, as opposed to quarantining at home. This program includes daily testing and masking at all times. For these individuals in Test and Stay, DESE recommends a physical distance of at least 3 feet during meals, when masks are removed.

    Comments (-1)
  • When would the Test and Stay program be important to my family?

    Posted by:

    If you get a call from the school saying that your child is a school-based close contact of someone with COVID-19 and your child is asymptomatic, collaborating with your school nurse, you would need to decide which protocol you will follow for your child:

    • Test and Stay enables your child to continue attending school in person
    • The other quarantine and testing protocols require staying at home for 7 or more days
    Comments (-1)
  • Is there research behind the Test and Stay program?

    Posted by:

    Yes. This testing and quarantine response protocol has been shown to be generally equivalent to quarantine for school-based contacts, and a safe alternative to at-home isolation.

    Click here to read the article “A cluster randomized trial of the impact of a policy of daily testing for contacts of COVID-19 cases on attendance and COVID-19 transmission in English secondary schools and colleges” by Young et al out of the UK.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Who approved the Test and Stay program?

    Posted by:

    The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH).

    The DPS School Committee voted in favor of implementing Test and Stay within the Dedham Public Schools at the 9/15/2021 School Committee meeting.

    Comments (-1)
  • What is the BinaxNow test?

    Posted by:

    The BinaxNOW test is a rapid antigen test that detects COVID-19.  A lower nasal swab is inserted into the lower part of each nostril to collect a sample.  A trained professional collects the swab, adds reagent to the sample and reads the test results 15 minutes later.

    Comments (-1)
Last Modified on September 28, 2021