Revised October 27, 2021
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Good news! The state has changed our school-based COVID-19 screening testing program so that participants will have individual (not grouped) PCR tests. This testing program will begin during school hours on the days of November 3-5, depending on your school. This testing can bring you peace of mind and helps keep our schools safe. Families and staff can still sign up for either screening testing (when healthy) or diagnostic testing (when symptoms appear at school or following exposure). We will add new registrants to the program as soon as possible.
Screening Testing for People without Symptoms
The voluntary program will offer regularly scheduled individual COVID tests at school (during the school day) to identify infected people who may be symptom-free. Testing is one more layer of protection, along with wearing masks, staying home if there are any symptoms/risk factors, maintaining good ventilation, and more. Everyone is encouraged to participate. (Initially, the state planned a “group” or “pooled” testing program, but now the plan is to test everyone individually.)
We will also be partnering with the state to offer voluntary diagnostic testing in cases of symptoms/exposure. See the Frequently Asked Questions for more information about diagnostic testing for exposed/symptomatic people. The permission form gives the option of agreeing to one or both of the testing programs.
- To learn more, scroll down to read our Frequently Asked Questions.
- The state has matched us with a vendor to run this programs (NEXT Molecular). and we plan to start 11/3. Registration is ongoing.
- Thanks to our partners on this project, the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Health. And thanks to our other partners – our students, families, and staff!
Translators and interpreters are available. Our web site and the sign-up form can be translated with Google. Call or email your school for help. You can also text 434-953-1802.
Si tiene preguntas acerca de las escuelas de Charlottesville, llame a nuestra línea telefónica en español al 434-245-2548. Un profesor de español le devolverá la llamada.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I sign up?
Complete this form. We hope everyone – vaccinated and unvaccinated people — will sign up for screening testing, but we will only test those staff and students who complete the consent form. Need a paper copy of the permission form? Contact or visit your school. The form allows you to sign up for the regularly scheduled screening testing and/or the diagnostic testing in case of symptoms/exposure.
Does the test hurt?
This is a shallow swab, not the deep nasal swab. One state employee noted, “The swab is less invasive than a child picking their nose.” (And this is the only time you will see the phrase “picking their nose” in a Cville Schools publication, we hope.)
How does screening testing work, generally speaking?
Our partners, Next Molecular, will visit each school at the same time each week (see planned schedule, below). Schools will send participants to the vendors to have a shallow nose swab. Results should be reported to families (and the health department) within 24-48 hours. Participants will be tested weekly unless you request a less frequent schedule by telling your school nurse or noting it on the form. Because this testing is conducted on symptom-free people, they can continue attending school while waiting on results (unless they develop symptoms).
Can I learn more about how screening testing works?
Vendors provided by the Virginia Department of Health will conduct individual PCR testing during school hours on a set schedule. Our vendor, Next Molecular, will provide trained staff to swab the front of the student’s nose. This is a non-invasive shallow swab. Participants will be tested weekly unless you request a less frequent schedule by telling your school nurse or noting it on the form. One principle of the program is that students or staff can change their mind about being tested, even if they or their family previously gave permission.
Where will testing take place?
Testing will take place at school during regular school hours (see planned schedule, below). We will establish a well ventilated or outdoor testing area. Screened testing will take place once per week, but you can set a different schedule when you complete the permission form. You will get an email reminder before each test, likely on Tuesdays. Registration will remain open for those who choose to join later.
When will I receive results? Who is notified?
Each time your student is tested, for a negative (no COVID) result, you’ll receive an email within 24-48 hours. If your student tests positive, you’ll likely get a phone call.
If a screening test is positive, the result will be reported to the family, the school, the BRHD, and the Virginia Department of Health.
Can my student remain in school while they wait on their screening test result?
Because this testing is conducted on symptom-free people, they can continue attending school while waiting on results (unless they develop symptoms). If a positive test result comes back while the child is in school, we will contact the family to arrange prompt pick-up.
When will screening testing start?
We plan to start during the week of November 3-5. Registration will remain open for those who choose to join later.
What’s the weekly schedule?
Our initial weekly schedule will be as follows. Please note that we might revise this schedule as needed:
- Burnley-Moran Elementary, 7:30-10:00
- Charlottesville High School, 10:30-1:30
- Clark Elementary, 7:30-9:00
- Jackson-Via Elementary, 9:30-11:00
- Johnson Elementary, 11:15-12:30
- Buford Middle School, 1:30-2:45
- Venable Elementary plus Lugo McGinness Academy, 7:30-9:30
- Greenbrier Elementary, 10:00-12:00
- Walker Upper Elementary School, 12:30-2:45
How is screening testing helpful?
Screening testing is one strategy recommended by the CDC to control the spread of COVID. Screening testing helps us identify symptom-free people who could potentially spread the virus. For some people, proactive testing is also a relief, a periodic check to know that you or your child doesn’t have COVID. Remember, screening testing is only one strategy — we will continue to mask, require daily screening for symptoms/risk factors, keep our upgraded ventilation systems in good working order, follow protocols, and more.
How often might a student or staff member get tested?
At the participation numbers we have right now, the vendors will be able to test all participants weekly. Participants can set a less frequent schedule when they complete the agreement form — and participants can always decline a weekly test, as well. If our participation numbers go up, we might change the model so that some participants get tested every other week, for example.
What about diagnostic testing?
In addition to screening testing, we are partnering with the state to offer free diagnostic testing for people who start showing symptoms at school or for vaccinated people who have been exposed.
The COVID testing permission form gives the option of agreeing to either the screening or the diagnostic testing programs. Both programs are funded by a partnership with the Virginia Departments of Health and Education.
What about diagnostic testing for people who start symptoms at school?
Free diagnostic testing may be offered to those who develop symptoms during the school day. Family permission would be verified prior to testing. Depending on program guidelines, we would offer either the 15-minute rapid antigen test called BinaxNOW or a mail-in PCR kit called “Let’s Get Checked,” both of which also use a shallow nasal swab. While the BinaxNOW test is fast and useful, it is not as accurate as a PCR test, and symptomatic people testing negative on the rapid test should still follow up with a healthcare provider for guidance.
Remember, if your student feels ill or has symptoms of COVID-19 prior to the school day, keep your student home and check with a healthcare provider. When a sick child goes to school, this puts others in our school community at risk.
What about diagnostic testing for people who have been exposed?
Free diagnostic testing may be offered to vaccinated people who have been exposed 5-7 days after exposure, per CDC guidelines. Family permission would be verified prior to testing.
A final word
The information in this guide is subject to change based on emerging best practices, the capacity of our vendor, or guidance from local, state, and national medical experts.