Voluntary COVID-19 Testing Program
The Barrow County School System is starting a voluntary, weekly COVID-19 testing program to help keep our students, staff, and community safe and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is important to remember the pandemic is not over, especially as we’ve seen the Omicron variant spread quickly. We must keep a relentless focus on doing whatever we can to keep our schools safe.
Regular COVID-19 testing of students and staff will help us lower the risk of the disease in our school by identifying positive cases of COVID-19 quickly. Testing will allow us to have regular in-person learning while making everyone safer.
How can studentS or STAFF participate in the program?
The testing program for students and staff is voluntary, and parent or guardian consent is required for students. You only need to sign up once for the weekly testing. To sign up for the program, staff can use the green button below and then select their work location. Parents can register their child to participate by clicking the green button, selecting their child's school, and completing the consent form. The more students and staff who participate, the safer our schools will be!
What is the COVID-19 voluntary testing program?
- Participating students and staff will be tested for COVID-19 once a week.
- The program starts the week of January 31, 2022. (You can sign up at any time.)
- The PCR test is performed at your child’s school or employee work location.
- The COVID-19 test is quick, easy, and it does not hurt. A nasal test gently swabs the lower inner nostril.
- Testing is sent to the lab. Lab results are sent to the parent or employee within 24 hours. No news is good news. If you do not hear back about test results, you can assume a test was negative.
- The test is free. You do not need to pay for the test or have insurance to get the test.
- The program is optional, but we hope you will participate to help us stop the spread of COVID-19.
Why is BCSS implementing a voluntary COVID-19 testing program?
School COVID-19 testing is one more layer of protection that helps us attend school in person safely, keep our schools open, and allow our kids to keep doing the activities they love - safely.
- Regular COVID-19 testing can quickly detect, trace, and isolate COVID-19 positive individuals. This will help us lower the risk of transmission.
- Testing is quick and easy and is not painful or invasive.
- Participating in the testing program is free and voluntary. Click the green button to sign up.
- Guardians need to sign a one-time consent form for their students to participate in the school COVID-19 testing program. Staff must complete the consent form.
- This is not a mandatory testing program. Students and staff may choose to join or end their participation at any time.
Top 3 Reasons to Test
School COVID-19 testing programs …
… help prevent COVID-19 spread in school.
School COVID-19 testing programs reliably catch cases in those without symptoms that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. By isolating those individuals before they have a chance to infect others, school COVID-19 testing programs reduce school closures and enable more sustainable in-person learning.
… build confidence among families and staff that returning to school is safe.
School screening programs help reassure families that schools are safe places to learn.
… protect the broader community.
By increasing the testing resources in the community, school COVID-19 testing programs enable students and families to protect their family, friends, and community. The program also provides more information for local public health leaders to continue fighting the virus.
Nearly half of all COVID-19 infections are transmitted by people who are not showing any symptoms. A positive test early in the course of the illness enables individuals to isolate themselves, which reduces the chance that they will infect others. Early testing and results also allow them to seek treatment earlier.
We remain committed and tirelessly focused to keep our schools operating effectively and safely. A critical element to achieving this outcome is the implementation of multifaceted and concurrent mitigation steps. The development and rollout of the vaccine has provided an additional layer of defense and contributed to the decline in cases over time. We encourage all students and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The testing process is fast, easy, and does not hurt. Here are two short videos that demonstrate the testing process.
As you can see, testing is quick and easy so it will only take a few moments once a week to complete.
Remember that “no news is good news.” If you don’t hear back about test results, you can assume the test is negative. If it is positive, you will be contacted immediately by your school with steps for isolating at home.
- Screening is the only way we can find and quarantine people without symptoms before they spread the virus to others. Individuals with COVID-19 can be infectious for 2- 3 days before they show symptoms. These individuals are presymptomatic. In addition, up to 50% of children and 20% of adults infected with COVID-19 never show any symptoms at all – they’re asymptomatic.
- Screening in the schools is a way to prevent disease spread in the community. By screening at the school, we are also providing sentinel screening for each family who sends an individual into the school. Any COVID-19 cases we are able to find and isolate are cases that will not be able to spread further in the community.
No, testing is voluntary. However, the more participants testing the more effective the program will be in preventing the spread in our schools and the community.
Screening will occur once a week beginning January 31, 2022 and end May 16, 2022.
The test is a PCR test, the most sensitive kind of COVID test. The test uses shallow nasal swabs. This is NOT an invasive swab. The nasal swab is conducted with a cotton swab, 3x around each nostril. Young students in Kindergarten and first grade will be swabbed by an adult.
The PCR pool test for COVID-19 works by detecting genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 cannot be confused with the genetic material from other viruses, so the COVID-19 diagnostic test is highly specific. This means it is unlikely that the test gives a false positive. If you are tested for COVID-19, and the test comes back positive, you can be very sure that you are infected with this virus.
In particular cases, the test can give a false negative. If the specimen collection is not done perfectly, or if you are in an early stage of infection or already partially recovered, your nasal-swab sample might not contain enough viral material and the test can come back negative. There are many stories about patients who tested negative soon after their symptoms began, only to test positive on a test done later. It is clear that the PCR test is more accurate at detecting early-stage infections.
However, because false-negative results on diagnostic tests can happen, a negative result should not give you a sense of false security. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, it is safest to assume you are infected and act accordingly, even if your diagnostic test comes back negative.
Results will be available in 24-48 hours. Individuals who test positive will be contacted by the school.
Individuals who are experiencing 1 or more symptoms of illness may not come to school.
See a list of free community testing. All staff and students should get tested if they or someone in their household is sick or has been exposed to COVID.
Individuals who have previously tested positive in the past 90 days should not test. After 90 days, you may volunteer in the testing program.
Yes. Vaccinated individuals should still be included in testing.
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