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Eurofins Genomics is proud to partner with Kentucky K-12 schools to offer free and easy COVID-19 testing options for all staff, students, and the school community

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Eurofins Genomics is a CAP Accredited and CLIA Certified Laboratory. All COVID-19 testing uses an internally developed FDA EUA approved assay, which is ranked amongst the best in the country by the FDA, and approved for ages 3 and up.

 

 

 

With federal funding readily available, most states launched a COVID-19 testing plan for reopening schools or they are in the process of doing so. However, designing a test program can feel overwhelming and confusing, especially given the clinical terminology. Below is a summary of the various tests, testing programs, and the impact to schools.

Test Types

The two most common types of tests are PCR and Antigen tests. The two most popular test plans are screening and diagnostic. Check the FAQ section for definitions on all these terms. Below is a comparison.

 

PCR

Antigen

Accuracy & Sensitivity

High

Medium

Speed

24hrs

15-30 min

Cost per person

Free

Free


Testing Programs

 

Diagnostic

Screening

Pooling + Individual Testing

Pooling

Impact to School

Necessary but not very effective at preventing or managing outbreaks

Effective at preventing some outbreaks.

Effective at preventing some outbreaks.

Effective at preventing some outbreaks.

Impact to Individual

Individual test

Individual testing in a group setting. All staff and students can participate.

Group and individual testing combined. All staff and students can participate.

Group testing only.

Description

Tested only after student exhibits symptoms

Weekly, proactive testing with or without symptoms

Weekly, proactive testing with or without symptoms

Weekly, proactive testing with or without symptoms

 

Which option is easiest for teachers and administrators?

 

Pooling

Diagnostic

Pooling + Reflex
Surveillance AND Diagnostic

Antigen

Administrative and Teacher Burden

Low Burden
Min. effort required

Medium Burden
Some effort required to label tubes and ship

Medium Burden
Some effort required to label tubes and ship

High Burden
Teachers must attend to individual students

How to collect samples

Lower nasal swab

Lower nasal swab, NP swab, saliva, and more

Lower nasal swab

Lower nasal swab

Frequency (recommendation)

Weekly

Weekly

Weekly

Bi-Weekly

Burden to follow up on testing

Medium Burden
School decides on follow-up actions

Low Burden
positive results must be confirmed

Low Burden
None. Positives are automatically confirmed

High Burden
positive results must be confirmed

Software integration

Same effort regardless of the type of test.

Home Collection possible?

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Initial specimen collection burden

Low
Students self-collect samples and pool on site

Medium
Must label individual tubes

Medium
Combination of Pooling and PCR

High
Must wait for test result and attend to each individual student

 

FAQ

What are the differences between PCR and Antigen testing?
PCR is a more accurate test and requires 24 hours for results. Antigen tests are not as accurate and require 15-30 minutes for results. In conclusion, the trade of is accuracy versus speed.
How frequently should students be tested?

States, counties and schools all have a lot of flexibility in testing options. Below is an outline of the most popular approaches. Schools can participate in as many or as few as they want.

  1. Screening is a weekly preventative test available to all students and staff. Once a week, all participates will be sent to a central location, such as the gymnasium, during home room class for a quick 15 min test. Screening is probably the most highly recommended COVID-19 school testing program, according to the CDC, Rockefeller Foundation, and other expert groups. Why? Because it prevents the spread of the virus. The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” comes to mind.
  2. Test-to-stay is a program that allows students to remain in the classroom after being exposed to a positive case. The exposed student takes a COVID test each morning for 5 days following exposure. They can stay in class as long as the result is negative.
  3. Randomized means the school will randomly select a predetermined percent of the population for testing once a week week. It does not replace weekly testing or diagnostic testing, but gives schools and parents a pulse on what is going on. The percentage tested varies per situation but typical numbers range between 10-30%.
  4. Diagnostic testing refers to testing a sick student. If someone exhibits symptoms, they will go to a school nurse or other organized solution to take a test. This is the absolute lowest level of testing. It is reactive, not proactive, but nevertheless necessary to test spontaneous cases that pop up.
What is the difference between surveillance, screening, and diagnostic testing?
Surveillance Testing

Surveillance testing centers around proactive monitoring of groups instead of reactive testing of individuals. Key differences arise between surveillance and other testing methods during the collection and reporting process. Diagnostic testing collects 1 samples per individual and provides 1 result per individual. On the contrary, surveillance testing provides 1 result for a group. Groups can vary widely. It can be as small as a classroom or as large as a city! Sample type can vary in surveillance. For instance, wastewater testing uses an environmental sample, while pooling combines the swabs of many people into 1 tube for a sample. Furthermore, pooling sometimes requires follow-up PCR testing on individuals from a positive pool. See the "Hybrid" section below for a solution to pooling and follow-up testing. For more information on surveillance, click the surveillance tab.

Diagnostic Testing

Diagnostic tests are performed on someone exhibiting symptoms. You are probably already familiar with this method since PCR and Antigen tests became ubiquitous during the COVID-19 pandemic. A key difference with diagnostic testing is that it requires a physician or healthcare provider's order, although this requirement was temporarily waived in some states during the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information, click the screening and diagnostic tab.

Screening

Screening mirrors diagnostic testing in most ways except that screening tests are performed on individuals that do not exhibit symptoms. Samples are collected in the same ways and results are individualized. For example Eurofins Genomics offers free, weekly screening tests for all employees, whether the individual shows symptoms or not. A physician's order is not required. Screening offers the added benefit of catching asymptomatic and symptomatic people early, limiting the spread of the virus. For more information, click the screening and diagnostic tab.

"Hybrid" Test

Many states chose a hybrid approach of pooling with follow-up individual testing on positive pools. Essentially, it is the best of both worlds. The follow-up test, referred to as "reflex" testing, can be done either with PCR or Antigen kits. Eurofins developed a very successful hybrid program that combines the sample collection process for pools and individuals into one step. Our program was awarded an exclusive contract by the federal government for the Northeast and South region of the United States, with $615M of funding available for schools to use the program. In our Hybrid program, each student collects 2 swabs, one from each nostril. One swab goes into the pooled tube and the other goes into an individual tube. All tubes are mailed to Eurofins. Our lab runs the pools first to provide the fastest possible results back to the school. If a pool is positive, we already have the individual samples on site for follow-up diagnostic testing. The follow-up test is typically referred to as a "reflex" test. More information can be found on the Hybrid tab.

Do athletes have to be tested?
It depends on the school and district. We are working with multiple counties and some require testing for athletes and others do not. It is not a mandate by the state. Please consider that not testing athletes can lead to unexpected surprises, such as quarantining right before the big game. These situations are disappointing to parents and passionate athletes, especially seniors and those seeking athletic scholarships. If you want your athletes to play sports uninterrupted, the best option is to enroll in testing.
When and where will the test be given?
In many of our schools, participates go to the school gymnasium once a week for screening tests, or the nurses office for test-to-stay and/or diagnostic testing. Check with your school for details on the local set-up.
Do vaccinated students require testing?
No, current CDC guidance states that fully vaccinated students do not need to be tested unless they develop COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19. Testing will be conducted in accordance with CDC testing guidance.
Does the school have to pay for testing? Will I get a bill or insurance charge for this?
Absolutely not. The program is fully funded. All invoicing is done through the state's centralized reporting system, so school will never receive a bill.
What is the test to stay program?
The state recently announced the test-to-stay program and it has gained popularity quickly. It allows exposed students to attend school instead of staying home in quarantine. To take advantage of this program the parent must sign the consent form, i.e. enroll, and the student is tested each morning for 5 days. Weekends and holidays are excluded.
How long must students quarantine for?
Students have 3 options:
  • Quarantine at home for 10 days, monitoring for symptoms. Students return to normal activities after day 10 if asymptomatic, no test required on day 10.
  • Quarantine at home for 7 days, testing on day 5 and returning to normal activities on day 8, if they have been asymptomatic the entire time and show/receive a negative test.
  • Participate in the “Test to Stay” (Modified Quarantine) program, testing each day via rapid antigen or every other day via PCR. If each sequential test is negative and the individual is asymptotic, then the individual is allowed into the classroom for school. However, the individual remain in normal quarantine at all other times outside the classroom; wearing mask when outside of the home and daily monitoring for symptoms.
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If a student is exposed to another infected student, how long must they quarantine for? r?
For students not enrolled in testing, they must be quarantine for 10 days.

For students enrolled in testing, they do not have to quarantine as long as they are tested daily for 5 days, i.e. the test-to-stay program.

What counts as “exposed” to an infected student?
Being within 3 feet of the infected student for 15 min or more.
Can parents or family members get tested at the school?
Yes, anyone exhibiting symptoms that lives with the student in the same household qualifies for testing. If you wish to participate, come to the school during the regularly scheduled screening test and provide a HIPAA consent form. *Note: a “family member” refers to a group of two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption who live together.
Who performs the test? Will it be a burden on our school staff?
In most cases, students swab their own nose while a professional oversees the process. It is as simple as picking your nose. Even young children can safely and reliably swab themselves. In fact, kindergartners are some of the best swabers. A classroom can complete testing in 10-15 min.

The person proctoring the test varies across schools. In some cases, Eurofins provides a healthcare professional to proctor the test to remove the burden from schools entirely. In other cases, the school nurse may perform the test. The deciding factor is the number of students being tested and local factors.

Is the test uncomfortable or painful?
No, the test does not use the deep nasal swab that feels uncomfortable. We use a short swab that only goes a half inch into the nostril.
How long for results?
PCR results are delivered in 24 hours typically. Parents will receive an email with a link to a portal site to download the results.

Antigen tests will provide results in 15-30 minutes.

Will students have to miss class for testing? Will it disrupt the school schedule?
Screening is typically scheduled during homeroom and only take a few minutes. It should not disrupt any class periods. The test-to-stay program typically aligns with homeroom as well. If a student feels unwell outside of those pre-scheduled times, they should take a diagnostic test. In this scenario, the student should leave class in order to be tested at the nurses office or another station. Diagnostic testing takes around 5-15 minutes.

Generally speaking, the process is quick and easy and should not significantly disrupt learning or free time/playtime.

Is the test reliable?
The Eurofins EUA approved assay (test) is >99% accurate. It was ranked #1 by the FDA in a reference panel of COVID-19 tests.

Antigen tests are about 80% accurate on the whole, but it varies by vendor. The simplest way to think about it is: if you get a positive result on an antigen test, it is very reliable. If you get a negative result on an antigen test, you might want to get a PCR test. In fact, some states require a PCR follow-up test on negative antigen tests due to the chance of false negatives with antigen.

All that being said, nothing is 100% accurate. Tests can show a false negative or false positive, but most test results are useful and give families the information they need.

Can other community members get tested through this program?

The state has approved a limited amount of community testing under the guidelines of the program. A valid "community" member is defined by anyone that lives with a student or school staff member and has symptoms. These individuals must follow the standard process and fill out a consent form before being tested.

To be clear, the intention of this program is not to turn schools into test collection sites for the county. The purpose of the grant is to increase COVID-19 testing within schools. The state encourages each school to set up their own testing program and local health departments to provide testing to members outside of the school community. All that being said, valid members of the school community can participate in the testing program.

 

 

 

 

Eurofins Genomics is a CAP Accredited and CLIA Certified Laboratory. All COVID-19 testing uses an internally developed FDA EUA approved assay, which is ranked amongst the best in the country by the FDA, and approved for ages 3 and up.

 

 

Consent forms

One of the surprising hurdles in getting a COVID-19 school testing program off the ground is acquiring the consent form from parents. Do not overlook it! This is one of the very first steps and requires attention and energy. Sending the form out once and considering the job done is not enough. It requires sending the form multiple times, in multiple formats, following up with parents, and educating them on the program. Many schools use internal portal systems to share documents, homework assignments, and get signatures for field trips. Using an approach that parents are already accustomed to can be more effective. With Eurofins, parents can give consent online, by email, or with a printed copy.

Online Consent Form

Download Consent form

Order Forms

Download the Paper Requisition Form

This form is used at the time of sample collection and to place an order in CareEvolve.

Letters to parents and staff

Posters and Flyers

Click a thumbnail to download the posters/flyer.

 

     
     
     
   
     

Many of these promotional resources were generously provided by the CDC.