The MacDuffie School is now able to test symptomatic students for the COVID-19 virus as they begin to return to in-person classes on February 8th. However, in order to be tested, students must have their parents reach out to the Health Center to give consent.
These tests will be taken in the Health Center. MacDuffie School Nurse Erica Piwcio said, “we can administer a rapid COVID antigen test, giving us the results in 15 minutes.” If a student’s test results come back positive, then that student will have to immediately leave the campus, as well as faculty and staff members. The other MacDuffie students would be moved to an isolation room where they would stay until their parents or guardians arrive.
The boarding students would be moved into an isolation room as well, while the MacDuffie cleaning staff would work to perform a deep clean of the school. They would also use contact tracing to determine where the infected student had been. However, the positive student would also be required to take a molecular PCR test, which is considered to be more reliable by health professionals and can deliver results in 5-6 hours.
If the rapid COVID antigen test comes back negative, and the student presents COVID symptoms, then they will take a PCR test as well. Depending on the seriousness of their symptoms, they may return to classes or be sent home, similar to a sick student during a regular school year.
Additionally, MacDuffie plans to begin pool test screening in the future. Nurse Piwcio described this process by saying that, “In the future, we are looking into implementing Pool test screening of every student and employee. This will detect any asymptomatic COVID positive persons. This test is a PCR molecular test. Samples from groups of 5-10 people will be put in the same test kit (‘pool’). If the pool comes back negative, that means no one in that pool is Covid positive. If the pool comes back positive then one or more persons in that pool are COVID positive. Those in the positive pool will be individually retested with the rapid antigen test we have on campus, and Covid positive protocols will be activated.”
With the in-person return of MacDuffie students drawing near, there have been several new testing methods put in place to ensure a higher level of safety for all students, faculty, and staff members who choose to return to in-person learning.