BinaxNOW COVID-19 Testing
As we continue to welcome more students to in-person learning, City Schools of Decatur is excited to announce that we are now partnering with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) to provide voluntary COVID-19 testing for staff and students. This program uses Abbott Laboratories BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests provided by the federal government. Our goal in providing voluntary COVID-19 testing is to rapidly identify and isolate COVID-19 cases and close contacts within the school community. Rapid antigen testing provides the district with an additional tool to utilize in conjunction with the mitigation and infection control measures currently in place.
Parents/guardians will have access to student consents through the Infinite Campus parent portal. The consent will be available in survey format. The survey will include a link to the full consent. Only students with a signed consent on record will be eligible for COVID-19 testing. Hard copies of the consent form will be available at your student’s school if needed. Tests will only be offered to in-person students and staff members.
Frequently Asked Questions
City Schools of Decatur, in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), has introduced Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 tests for use on symptomatic students and staff. This FAQ document answers questions regarding protocols for using the Abbott BinaxNOW test kits as part of this program, documentation and reporting requirements for symptomatic testing.
What is a BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card?
Antigens are proteins that are found on the surface of a virus and are unique to that virus. These rapid antigen tests detect the presence of these antigens from SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in symptomatic individuals suspected of COVID-19 by within the first seven days of symptom onset. They are a diagnostic test authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that doesn’t require any large laboratory instrumentation to test the samples and instead determines a COVID-19 negative or positive result using a test card containing a very small amount of liquid solution and a nasal swab. Results are able to be provided within about 15 minutes.
Who is eligible to get these tests under this program– students, staff, or parents – and must they be symptomatic?
School nurses will screen students and staff who present with symptoms (while at school/work) to determine if the rapid testing is indicated. Parental/guardian consent for this testing must be obtained and documented prior to the test being administered for a student. If consent is not given for the test to be performed, the student will be sent home with specific instructions on when and what is needed for return to school. Only symptomatic students and staff onsite are eligible for testing. Students or staff who are asymptomatic should not be tested using the Abbott BinaxNOW test.
Screening for symptoms and the decision to proceed with testing will include monitoring for the following symptoms:
At least one of the following symptoms:
-Shortness of breath
-New loss of taste or smell
Two or more of the following symptoms:
-Fever (temperature of 100.0°F or greater)
-Muscle or body aches
-Congestion or runny nose
-Nausea or Vomiting
Shouldn’t students and staff stay home if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?
Yes. All staff must monitor themselves for symptoms daily. Students, with the assistance of families, must also be monitored daily for symptoms. Staff and students must stay home if feeling unwell.
Despite screening efforts prior to arrival at school, some students and staff may experience the onset of symptoms while at school. The Abbott BinaxNOW tests will allow schools to rapidly respond to these situations, thereby allowing for isolation and identification of close contacts to begin immediately. This testing will provide an additional tool for schools' mitigation and infection control measures. COVID testing of any kind is one of many mitigation tools and does not replace consistent use of infection control measures like physical distancing, hand hygiene, mask wearing, and others.
How accurate are these rapid tests?
While the BinaxNOW test is not as sensitive as a PCR test, they are most accurate when used for symptomatic individuals within the first 7 days of symptoms. In a small number of cases, tests sometimes produce incorrect results --showing negative results (called “false negatives”) in individuals who have COVID-19 or showing positive results (called “false positives”) in individuals who do not have COVID-19.
What happens after a positive BinaxNOW test? What about a negative one?
Symptomatic students cannot remain at school, regardless of the BinaxNOW test result. The BinaxNOW test should not be used for asymptomatic testing in the school.
Any symptomatic individual who tests positive should be treated as a positive COVID-19 case. Parents and staff will be provided with specific information regarding next steps, including isolation, quarantining close contacts and what is needed for return to school.
If a symptomatic individual has a negative test, they will still be sent home. The student’s parent/guardian will be informed that they should follow up with their healthcare provider and consider PCR testing for COVID-19. The individual may return to school after they 1)have been evaluated by a healthcare provider, have an improvement in symptoms, and have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications; or 2) have been removed from school for 10 days from the start of symptoms, as long as their symptoms have improved and they have been without fever for at least 24 hours prior to their return to school without the use of fever reducing medication.
Communication to Parent/Guardian
The school will communicate with the student’s parent/guardian after every test of a student, whether the result is positive or negative, informing them of the result and providing detailed instructions regarding next steps and what is needed for return to school.
Communication to the Department of Health
Test results will be communicated to the Georgia Department of Health through the COVID-19 Point of Care(POC) test reporting portal (SENDSS). In certain cases, we may consult with DPH regarding contact tracing and/or isolation or quarantine guidelines.
How will consent work?
Consent to administer the Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 test is a prerequisite to test administration. Individuals must agree to all terms to be tested. If a parent/guardian chooses to revoke their consent at any time, they must notify the child’s school in writing of their decision. The Student Consent Form for Optional COVID-19 Testing may be found here.