Screening Program Frequently Asked Questions
How will screening testing be conducted?
Vendors provided by the Virginia Department of Health will conduct pooled PCR testing once per week. The screening test is a non-invasive shallow swab. Vendors will provide trained staff to swab the front of the student’s or employee’s nose. The vendor will then combine samples from several tested individuals into a “pool” and analyze the pool. If a collection comes back negative, we can assume that every individual who was part of that pool had a negative result. If the pool comes back positive, we will need to determine which individual(s) in the pool has/have COVID-19. Some vendors can analyze the sample again to identify the infected person, while others will need to return to the school and collect a second sample.
Where will testing take place?
Testing will take place at each of our school locations. Parents & guardians will be notified via email if their student has been selected that week for testing. No staff or student will be tested unless there is a permission/consent submitted. This is an “opt in” process.
When & how will I receive the results for my student or myself?
Each time an individual (staff or student) is tested, notification of the result will be emailed to the address provided when registering. In most cases, this result will be available within 24 hours of when the sample was collected.
What if the “pool” result is positive?
If a participant is part of a positive pool, FCCPS will notify the employee or parents/guardians of the next steps, which will include conducting individual confirmatory tests. The participants in the positive pool will not be required to quarantine unless a second test comes back positive. The vendor will conduct a confirmatory PCR test by using the original sample taken or coming to the school to gather another sample in person. This result will also usually be available within 24 hours of when the sample was collected.
What if the “confirmatory” test result is positive?
If an individual test is positive on the confirmatory PCR test, the individual is assumed to have COVID-19. The employee or parents/guardians will receive directions for isolating and may be asked to participate in case investigation and contact tracing efforts. Students who are isolated due to testing positive will access instruction using their division device and the school will work out a plan with the parents/guardians. Staff will be able to work remotely if they are feeling well and it is possible given the scope of their job. If staff are not able to work remotely and are isolated due to a positive COVID test they will receive paid emergency leave.
Can students or employees remain in school/work if they are part of a positive “pool”, but have not yet received their individual “confirmatory” follow-up test result?
YES. While waiting for results from the confirmatory testing, individuals in the positive pool do not need to pause or quarantine. THEY WILL REMAIN IN SCHOOL OR AT WORK, unless they develop symptoms. Students and staff in a positive pool waiting on a confirmatory result will be allowed to attend class or work. However, they will not participate in group extracurricular activities (e.g., sports) until a confirmatory result is available. Again, this includes staff and students.
What if a participant in a positive pool declines a confirmatory test, or is unable to get a test within the 24-hour window?
The student or employee will be treated as a positive case and will be excluded from in-person learning/activities in any school facilities until a test result can be obtained or a timeframe consistent with VDH isolation and quarantine protocols has passed. Isolation is 10-days from symptom onset or testing positive. Public health officials determine whether a staff/student quarantines or isolates and they determine the length, not FCCPS.
What if a participant (staff or student) in a “positive” pool develops symptoms but has not had a positive test?
Any individual (whether in the positive pool or not) who develops symptoms should stay home from school/work, notify the school or their supervisor, and follow VDH’s isolation guidance. They should also reach out to their healthcare provider regarding their symptoms. They will still need a confirmatory PCR test with a negative result in order to return to school/work plus their symptoms should also be resolved.
How does a participant get a “confirmatory” test after a positive pool test?
The vendor will conduct the confirmatory test if the pool is positive. This is done in one of two ways. The vendor may use the sample already taken to run the confirmatory test or they may return to the school to swab all members of the positive pool again. This result will also usually be available within 24 hours of when the sample was collected.
Who will have access to my student’s results?
All results are kept extremely confidential. Individual negative results will be reported to the tested individual or parents/guardians only. The vendor will only report them to school officials or the health department in the aggregate, at the individual level for who tested negative (i.e., the report will only contain the number of tests that returned a negative result).
Individuals or parents/guardians in a positive pool will be notified by FCCPS that they are a part of the positive pool and that follow-up testing is required, but the individual names in a positive pool collection are not reported to the health department. Every individual test that returns a positive result must be reported to the employee or parent/legal guardian and the Virginia Department of Health. The school will be notified as well, so the contact tracing investigation can begin.
Can an 18 year old student sign up to participate on their own?
Yes, anyone 18 or above does not require parent permission to participate in the COVID-19 testing and/or vaccination program. This includes FCCPS students who are 18.
Can I change my mind later on about participating in the screening test program?
Absolutely. Anyone may change their minds at any time during the process. Staff and students can leave or join the testing pool at any time.
What happens if my student doesn’t want to be tested, but I do want them tested?
We will not force anyone to take a test. Any student who doesn’t not wish to participate, will not be made to participate. If a student is fearful, anxious, or uncomfortable and not able to participate in the process, we will let the parent/guardian know.