Prince Frederick, MD- Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) and the Calvert County Health Department (CCHD) have partnered to implement a rapid testing program for staff and students who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while at school.
Dr. Daniel D. Curry, Superintendent, said, “We see rapid testing as an important step toward keeping schools open. By testing as soon as a student or staff member feels ill, we limit exposure to others and mitigate the need to quarantine.”
The addition of the testing program is not intended to take the place of prescreening for symptoms or exposure prior to coming to school. All students and staff members who begin to feel sick prior to the start of the school day should stay home.
School nurses will conduct rapid COVID-19 testing, following the same testing protocol that is standard in medical offices. The school system has eight BD Veritor testing machines located throughout the county. Test samples collected at a school that does not have a testing machine will be transported to the nearest school site with a testing machine.
Consent will be obtained prior to testing any student or staff member. Parents who would like their child tested if they become ill while at school will be encouraged to complete a consent form to be kept on file. Having a completed consent form will help to expedite the testing process. Parents will be notified prior to testing even when a consent form is on file.
The Maryland State Department of Education requires any student or staff member displaying potential symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home for 10 days after the onset of symptoms, unless they have adequate testing that shows the symptoms are not caused by COVID-19. A single rapid test will miss 10-15% of COVID-19 infections. If the first test at school is negative, there must be a follow-up with a healthcare provider the next day. If the second rapid test is also negative, there is adequate assurance the symptoms are not caused by COVID-19. This follow-up appointment also allows a doctor or nurse practitioner to screen for other infections, including strep throat and ear infections, both of which often need antibiotics for safe recovery. If the infection is not caused by COVID-19, students and staff may return to school after 24 hours without fever and an improvement in symptoms.