Information on COVID testing program from the school nurses

Note: this information was sent via email 10/6/21
Thank you for your continued support as we strive to provide the safest possible environment in all of the Amherst, Pelham and Regional schools. Health and safety of students and staff is a top priority to support a successful school year of learning and growth.

Please note that the 2021-22 testing program is with a new partner and requires new registration and consent. ALL participants of last year’s testing programs MUST re-register and provide consent, which can be done by clicking here.

For the 2021-2022 school year, the COVID-19 testing program has three components:

  • Symptomatic Testing for students and staff who show symptoms of COVID-19 at school,
  • Routine COVID Safety Checks to prevent the spread of the virus undetected among students and staff who are not showing symptoms,
  • Test-and-Stay for students and staff who may have been exposed while in school but are not showing symptoms.

Each of these is a quick, non-invasive nasal swab that is collected by a school nurse or trained health provider. Unlike COVID-19 tests of the past, these are not uncomfortable and are easy to administer. Students only participate with permission from a parent or guardian.

Additional information on the three parts of our testing program, how they are conducted, and what they are used for is outlined below:

Symptomatic Testing is used when a student or staff member shows symptoms of COVID-19 during school. Individuals should not come to school if they are feeling sick while at home. Some symptoms of the virus look identical to other illnesses like the cold or flu, and this test tells us whether a symptomatic student has COVID-19 or not. This is a rapid test with results available in 15 minutes. If a student has minimal symptoms, tests negative and is well enough to participate in classroom activities then the School Nurse can clear them to remain in school.

Routine COVID Safety Checks minimize disruption to learning by helping us catch potential spread of the virus before it starts. Routine safety checks (pooled testing) are administered at the beginning of each week. All students PK-12 are eligible to participate. Samples are collected at school in groups of 10 and sent to the Broad Institute Lab. All the samples in the group are tested for COVID-19 together. In most cases, it will take less than 24 hours to receive safety check results. Students can continue to come to school while awaiting safety check results; they do not need to quarantine while awaiting results. If a safety check test is positive, the students in the group will take individual rapid tests to determine next steps.

Test-and-Stay allows students who have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 while at school to stay in school if the student is not showing symptoms. Instead of needing to quarantine and miss school, these students will take a daily rapid test while they remain in school as long as they are not symptomatic. Students participate in “test-and-stay” for at least five days, but not more than 10 days.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, they must be isolated at home for the CDC-recommended ten days since symptoms appeared or ten days from the date of a positive test before returning to school. The student must also be without a fever for 24 hours.

As noted above, to participate in the program you must complete the registration and consent.  If you have additional questions regarding the program, please contact the building-based nurse or Robbin Suprenant, Nurse Manager.

It is our hope that these measures will work together to keep our schools safe and your students in school.  Thanks again for your support during this challenging time.


Amherst-Regional Public Schools Nurses

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