At-home testing: positive test results

Did your student test positive for COVID-19 at home? Or are you a staff member who tested positive at home?
If yes, please fill out the form for Reporting Positive Results.
 

Pool Testing Schedule 

 
Testing Schedule for May 16 - May 20, 2022
(Schedule subject to change based on SPS scheduling and staffing needs.)
  Mon Tues Wed  Thurs Fri
  May 16 May 17 May 18 May 19 May 20
SHS/NWFC 8a-3p        
Argenziano     8a-12p    
Brown 8a-12p        
Capuano 8a-12p        
ESCS     8a-12p    
Healey     8a-12p    
Kennedy     8a-12p    
WSNS     8a-3p    
WHCIS 8a-12p        
Edgerly 
(Staff Only)
    9a-12p    
 
Testing Schedule for May 23 - May 27, 2022
(Schedule subject to change based on SPS scheduling and staffing needs.)
  Mon Tues Wed  Thurs Fri
  May 23 May 24 May 25 May 26 May 27
SHS/NWFC 8a-3p        
Argenziano     8a-12p    
Brown 8a-12p        
Capuano 8a-12p        
ESCS     8a-12p    
Healey     8a-12p    
Kennedy     8a-12p    
WSNS     8a-3p    
WHCIS 8a-12p        
Edgerly 
(Staff Only)
    9a-12p    

 

At-Home COVID Testing

Testing updates will go into effect when test kits are distributed to students and staff. Expect your student to bring home their iHealth test kit on Thursday or Friday. We are asking students and staff to use their at-home test kits on Sundays, starting February 20 and 27, 2022 before returning to school on Monday. 

SPS COVID Dashboard

Current community vaccination and COVID metrics, as well as information on SPS testing and tracing can be found on the SPS COVID Dashboard for the 2021-22 school year.

COVID Assurance Testing in Schools

Somerville Public Schools will continue universal COVID assurance testing during the 2021-2022 academic year.

  • All staff and students will be tested regardless of vaccination status.
  • Testing will be available weekly at each school.
  • Testing will be pooled PCR.

INTRODUCTION

In response to increasing COVID-19 cases, Somerville Public Schools (SPS) will be continuing many of the testing and safety protocols adopted last school year to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Routine COVID-19 Pooled Testing will be offered on a weekly basis for all students, faculty, staff, other employees, and any other individuals providing direct, in-person services in SPS buildings regardless of vaccination status. As a reminder, parents will have to submit a consent form prior to student testing.

In addition to weekly PCR pooled testing, students will have access to symptomatic testing at school to quickly identify COVID-19 positive individuals. 

Masks are now optional for all students and staff entering the building, and physical distancing will be maintained where possible.

This page is intended as a resource for families and staff to learn about the Routine COVID-19 Pooled Testing protocol, how results will be communicated, and the testing schedule. For questions not answered in this section, or for anything to do with Routine COVID-19 Pooled Testing, please email Jose Mendez at jmendez@k12.somerville.ma.us.

More information on DESE’s COVID-19 Testing Program can be found on their website.

VACCINATIONS

Vaccination is the strongest protective measure against COVID-19 available to individuals 5-years of age and older. 

To find a vaccine clinic near you, please click on the link.

Fully Vaccinated

You are considered fully vaccinated:

·   Two weeks after you have received the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna); or

·   Two weeks after you have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson/Janssen)

HOW THE TESTING WORKS

During the 2021-22 school year, SPS will be participating in the DESE-sponsored Routine COVID-19 Pooled Testing program operated by CIC Health, which will help identify and isolate individuals who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic carriers of the virus. Our goal is to provide universal and routine testing for all staff and students so as to prevent the virus spreading in the schools and the wider community. 

Students and staff will be tested using a pooled Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. PCR tests are the most sensitive and accurate type of test, detecting the virus’ genetic material when people are infectious but may not yet be showing symptoms.

Pool testing detects the virus as accurately as individual testing while reducing the number of tests that need to be processed and, as a result, the overall cost of testing. If one person is positive for the virus and triggers the pool, the entire pool will retest to determine which individual(s) submitted the positive sample. For more information on DESE’s COVID-19 Testing Program, click on the link.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON TESTING DAY?

Somerville is piloting a new sample collection process this year, so your student may be able to swab at their classroom or continue to be processed at a central location in their school. The test involves a gentle swab of the lower part of both nostrils for about 15 seconds. Per DPH guidance, staff and students who are in grades kindergarten and above are encouraged to self-administer the nasal swab under appropriate supervision. Samples will be collected by staff and either sealed individually or placed into a pooled sample for transport to the testing facility. 

POST-TEST INSTRUCTION & RESULTS COMMUNICATION

Once all test samples have been processed, any positive results will be communicated as soon as possible by the SPS Health Services team. 

BASELINE TESTING

Baseline testing will not be used during the 2021-22 school year. As was successfully piloted last year, students and staff will be tested in school during the first two days following an extended break. Please make sure to check for COVID-19 symptoms prior to returning to school.

POSITIVE INDIVIDUAL TEST RESULT

If you are positive for COVID-19, you must remain in self-isolation, away from other people (including members of the same household if possible) for at least 5 days following the beginning of your symptoms or positive test result AND until you have been fever-free for 24 hours (without fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms have improved. 

Individuals who have tested positive and completed their isolation period should not participate in assurance testing for 90 days. The test may have detectable viral genetic material that would return a positive pool result, despite the fact that they are no longer infectious.  

NEGATIVE INDIVIDUAL TEST RESULT

Negative results will NOT be communicated. 

POSITIVE POOL TEST RESULT

After individual test samples are collected, they will be pooled together with up to 10 samples in the same test tube. This one tube will then be tested for the presence of COVID-19. A positive test indicates that one or more persons who submitted a sample into that pooled tube has COVID-19. To confirm the positive individual among the pool, all members may be asked to receive a reflex test (rapid antigen), or the lab may be able to determine the positive individual with additional samples submitted at the time of collection.

If you are positive for COVID-19, you must remain in self-isolation, away from other people (including members of the same household if possible) for at least 5 days following the beginning of your symptoms or positive test result AND until you have been fever-free for 24 hours (without fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms have improved. 

DIAGNOSTIC TESTING

Please note that individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should NEVER enter the school building. Diagnostic testing in school is not intended to replace daily symptom checks. Parents who send students with COVID-19 symptoms to school risk exposing other families to the virus and make it more difficult for SPS to mitigate outbreaks.

Symptomatic Testing: (for when individuals present symptoms while at school; individuals should not go to school if experiencing symptoms while at home): Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test or another approved diagnostic test.

HOW WILL POSITIVE CASES IN THE CLASSROOM/SCHOOL BE COMMUNICATED?

To safeguard the health and well-being of our school community, SPS will notify families and staff regarding any positive results in their school, while maintaining confidentiality. 

When possible, classroom test samples will be pooled together and tested as a single batch, resulting in a “Pool Positive” or “Pool Negative” test result. If you or your student are part of a pool that tests positive, you will either be tested at school or provided instructions for a follow-up test.

If you or your student tests positive you will need to isolate at home for a minimum of five days and must follow the standard protocol. The infectious period begins two days before symptom onset (or two days prior to the date of the positive test if the individual has no symptoms) and includes up until the time the student/staff was isolated because they tested positive. 

We ask that everyone please respect the privacy of those affected and those who need to quarantine. We ask that you exercise the right to privacy and decrease the stigma by refraining from discussing individual circumstances through conversations or social media.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What to do if you or your child tests positive or is a close contact

Did your child get a positive test result outside school or using an at-home testing kit? Please let us know through this form.

Read what you should do if you or a close contact tests positive for COVID-19: English (updated 1.18.2022), Spanish (updated 1.18.2022), Portuguese (updated 1.18.2022)

Graphical chart of steps your family must take in situations where a student is a close contact or tests positive: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole

WHAT HAPPENS IF I ALREADY TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19? SHOULD I GET TESTED?

DESE recommends that individuals who have tested positive and completed their isolation period should not participate in testing for 90 days unless they become symptomatic. They may have detectable viral genetic material that would return a positive pool result, despite the fact that they are no longer infectious.  

IS THE COVID-19 SCREENING TEST PAINFUL?

No. Unlike previous testing protocols that required a nasopharyngeal swab (the “brain tickle” test), current testing methods only require that the lower part of the nostril be swabbed in a circular motion for 15 seconds. While some participants may feel some discomfort, the majority report only a slight tickling.

WHEN WILL STUDENTS BE TESTED?

Routine COVID-19 safety checks will be performed at school during school hours. A student’s specific testing time may fluctuate during the semester.

WHAT IS POOLED TESTING?

Pooling—sometimes referred to as pool testing or pooled testing—means combining samples from several people and conducting one laboratory test on the combined pool of samples to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

WHY IS POOLING USED?

Pooling allows laboratories to test more samples with fewer testing materials at a fraction of the cost. 

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE POOLED TEST RESULT IS NEGATIVE?

If a pooled test result is negative, then all the samples can be presumed negative with the single test. In other words, all of the people who provided samples can be assumed to test negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE POOLED TEST RESULT IS POSITIVE?

If the pooled test result is positive, each person who provided a sample will be re-tested to determine which person(s) testing are positive.

IF MY STUDENT IS ABSENT/IF I AM ABSENT FROM SCHOOL DURING MY TESTING TIME, WHAT THEN?

At this time, participation in Routine COVID-19 Safety Checks is not mandatory, but is strongly encouraged. A student who misses Routine COVID-19 Pool Testing may be offered a rapid antigen test upon their return to the school, particularly when they are not vaccinated. Parents who wish may have their student take a home test, or visit one of the community testing sites. 

WHAT IF I NEED TO ACCESS MY NEGATIVE TEST RESULT?

Negative results will NOT be communicated to participants.

SHOULD STUDENTS OR STAFF STAY HOME IF SOMEONE IN THEIR HOME HAS SYMPTOMS RELATED TO COVID-19, BUT HASN’T BEEN TESTED YET?

Only individuals who are symptomatic themselves or close contacts of those who are confirmed to have COVID need to self-isolate (quarantine). This means that if an individual in the student/staff member’s household is self-isolating because they are symptomatic, but not confirmed to have COVID, the student/staff member should have limited to no contact with the symptomatic individual to the extent feasible. As a result, the student/staff member should continue to attend school if they are not symptomatic. 

WILL THE TESTING PROVIDE INFO ON THE NEW VARIANT OF COVID?

No. The testing protocol will detect a positive case, but not whether the positive case is from a new variant of the virus. That requires further analysis (genome sequencing).

DO I NEED INSURANCE COVERAGE/WILL MY INSURANCE BE BILLED FOR THE TEST?

No. The Somerville Public Schools Routine COVID-19 Safety Checks program is made possible through a cost-sharing partnership between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and CIC Health. Asymptomatic and diagnostic test will be provided free of charge through the Somerville schools.

THERE IS SO MUCH TALK ABOUT NOT GOING TO SCHOOL IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT MANY PEOPLE WITH COVID DON'T GET SYMPTOMS?

One of the primary advantages in performing routine COVID-19 safety checks is that the PCR test used can detect the virus in individuals who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. That is why the SPS has adopted district-wide routine COVID-19 pooled testing protocol.

 

GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS

Anterior nasal swab: Unlike the nasopharyngeal swab, or “brain tickle” test that was used more frequently during the early days of the pandemic, an anterior nasal swab is a gentle swab of the lower part of the nostril with a cotton swab, about 0.5 inch within the nasal opening (or where a finger can reach), which is used to collect a sample to be tested for COVID-19.

Assurance testing: Also called “universal testing” or “screening testing,” it is a process in which the entire school population will be tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis. Rather than testing only people who show signs of an infection, assurance testing monitors a seemingly healthy population to identify any individuals who may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and who should be isolated. This process, used during the 2020-21 school year, was replaced with Routine COVID-19 Pool Testing.

Asymptomatic: Lack of symptoms. It is possible to contract the coronavirus and make antibodies to it even if you stay asymptomatic. It is also possible to spread the virus to others if you're carrying it but have no symptoms.

Close contact: Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

Incubation period: Period of time between exposure to an infection and onset of symptoms.

Isolation: The separation of a person or group of people known or reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease and potentially infectious from those who are not infected to prevent spread of the communicable disease.

PCR test: Also called a molecular test, this COVID-19 test detects genetic material of the virus using a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR tests are very accurate when properly performed by a healthcare professional, and are able to detect the presence of COVID-19 early in the incubation period.

Pool testing: Pooling—sometimes referred to as pool testing or pooled testing—means combining samples from several people and conducting one laboratory test on the combined pool of samples to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Somerville is able to combine up to 10 individual samples in the same pool to be tested together.

Pre-symptomatic: If you’re pre-symptomatic, you have contracted the virus and may soon feel symptoms, but at the moment, you don't have any. It may be possible to spread COVID-19 to others during this phase.

Quarantine: The separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic from others who have not been so exposed to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease.

Reflex testing: When a pooled test is positive, it indicates that one or more of the 10 combined samples processed by the lab contained genetic material for COVID-19, but the test is unable to determine who provided the positive sample. A follow-up test, or reflex test, will be used to determine who among the group are negative for COVID-19, and who is positive. 

Routine COVID Pooled Testing and Lab-Based Follow-Up Testing: Shallow nasal or saliva samples are collected and kept separate before being grouped at the lab. If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing occurs at the lab, without a second sample collection. Individual test results are reported to the school.

Routine COVID Pooled Testing and School-Based Follow-Up Testing: Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school and put into a single tube (maximum of 10 samples per tube). If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing with a second sample collection occurs at the school with BinaxNOW and/or individual PCR testing, as necessary.

Screening testing: Screening tests for SARS-CoV-2 are intended to identify occurrence at the individual level even if there is no reason to suspect infection—e.g., there is no known exposure. This includes, but is not limited to, screening of non-symptomatic individuals without known exposure with the intent of making decisions based on the test results. Screening tests are intended to identify infected individuals without, or prior to development of, symptoms who may be contagious so that measures can be taken to prevent further transmission.

Symptomatic testing: (for when individuals present symptoms while at school; individuals should not go to school if experiencing symptoms while at home): Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test or another approved diagnostic test.