What is the K-12 COVID-19 Saliva Screening Program?
K-12 COVID-19 Screening Program
The K-12 COVID-19 Screening Program was developed in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). The program was designed to bring equitable access to free COVID-19 screening testing to K-12 schools in Oregon.
The program is funded through a federal grant. Each state received funds to implement a screening program in their state. Rather than using reference labs, like most states, Oregon decided to partner with local laboratories. This allows trusted local labs to take care of the communities they serve.
The Santiam Hospital Scope Lab is the partnered lab for region 2 screening testing. Region 2 includes the following areas and their surroundings: the Santiam Canyon, Stayton, Sublimity, Aumsville, Turner, Marion, Jefferson, Salem/Keizer, Silverton, Mt. Angel, and Aurora. Both public and private schools and districts in these areas are welcome to offer screening testing to their families through the end of the 2022-2023 school year via the Santiam Hospital Scope Lab.
What is Screening Testing?
Because COVID-19 vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of infection, the CDC recommends screening only in unvaccinated individuals. Schools may choose to verify vaccination status, but this is not required, and all interested students are welcome to enroll, regardless of vaccination status.
We recommend opening the program up to your school’s entire student body and allowing those who desire screening testing to have the access to it. This guarantees equitable access to all and is what all of our schools have done to date.
Additional examples of how other states have set up screening programs can be found by downloading these PDFs:
How does the program work?
This section describes how the program is operationalized and what the responsibilities of the school/district is.
The program is still free, opt-in, saliva PCR testing for K-12 students but it has been re-designed in the 2022-2023 school year to be as hands off for the school districts as possible. We recognize and appreciate that school staff operate with already exacerbated workloads. We aim to partner with you, in order to make this as easy as possible for your school to implement. This is why we’re the first lab in the state to offer the mailing of testing kits directly to student’s homes.
If there are any roadblocks you can identify that would prevent you from being able to offer this program, but you are interested in being able to offer it, please contact us and we will be happy to see what we can do to meet your institution’s needs.
How the program works
- Students 16 years of age or older can opt themselves into the program. Students under the age of 16 will need to have a parent or legal guardian opt them into the program.
- After opting in, they will need to create a LabDash account. If the student is over 16 they can create their own account, but if they are under 16 a parent/guardian will need to create an account under their own name and add the student as a dependent.
- Testing kits are mailed directly to the student’s home, where they can self-collect their saliva sample in private.
- After physically collecting the sample they will need to “collect” the sample in LabDash as well, linking the tube to their account by either manually typing in the barcode number or scanning it with their phone. This needs to be done each time a sample is submitted.
- With each sample they will also need to be sure their sample is labelled with the provided sticker containing their name and date of bith.
- They will then return the sample to the school’s designated drop-off box, on or before 9am on the pick-up day.
- Couriers will pick the sample up and return it to the lab for testing.
- Results are uploaded into LabDash within 24 hours after reciept at the lab.
- The last 6 steps are repeated each week that they wish to submit a sample for testing.
What are the school’s responsibilities?
- The school is required to fill out a brief consent form opting the school/ district into the program (this should take less than 2 minutes to complete). The consent form can be found here
- The school is responsible for allowing the lab to put a collection drop-off box in their building, near the main office or in the main office. They are responsible for ensuring it remain open and accessible to students and parents. It should not be kept behind a desk or in another location that would require a student or parent to give a school employee their test in order to turn it in. This is a HIPPA violation. They must also allow the lab’s couriers to have access to the building in order to pick up the samples.
- The school is responsible for sending out pre-built communications about the program to its entire student body on a regular basis. All communications are made by the Lab. If you have specific materials you want to provide your families, we would be happy to create those as well.
- Office staff and teachers should be provided with pre-built talking points enabling them to answer the most basic program questions. All other questions should be directed back to the lab for answering.
- The school is responsible for signing up for a sponsor account on Labdash.net, instructions on this can be found here. You are able to see how many students tested for the current week and how many came back positive. You cannot see who tested or what their results were as all information is deidentified. You may choose to access this report or ignore it all together.
Families can opt-out of the program at any time. Testing weekly is not a requirement in order to participate; however, we do strongly encourage it, as that is how we are able to detect positives early and stop outbreaks before they happen.
If a student tests positive we will notify them and provide further instructions, including teh responsibility of notifying thier institution of the positive result.
Why should schools offer the program?
Benefits to Districts
- Create your Sponsor account for your school/ district
- Become familiar with the program and your responsibilities
- Learn how the testing process and reporting will work so you can interpret the information properly
Benefits to Students & Families
- Once you become familiar with LabDash and the weekly testing process, you can start scheduling pick up/drop off dates for tests supplies
- Create a schedule through applications like Google calendar to help your team stay up to date on important weekly events
- Create a routine to help the testing process run smoothly, and make sure to keep families in the loop so they know when to turn in tests
- Decide where you’ll store the test kits and place the collection box
Opt your school/disctrict in
Opt-in with OHA
- Have your families take them home
- Make sure to answer any questions about sample taking and collection as early as possible
- If needed, hand out kits earlier then needed so you have more time to field questions
Create a Sponsor Account
- Safely gather the now used test kits and get them ready for pickup
- Make sure to wear any necessary gear when handling full sample kits