April 7, 2022
Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff Members,
We recently passed the two year anniversary of the school closure due to the “novel Coronavirus,” now known as COVID-19. We have survived remote learning, hybrid learning, and a return to in-person learning. We have seen our education systems transformed with capacity limits, physical distancing, personal protective equipment, disinfection protocols, and air filtration systems. We have implemented comprehensive surveillance/pooled testing systems and held vaccination clinics. And, we have landed on the other side of the most recent variant surge with limited numbers of new COVID-19 positive cases, and a gradual release of the protective measures that were necessary at the start of the pandemic to what almost feels like normal.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has offered a change in the testing program that North Adams Public Schools now feels ready to implement. This change to our surveillance/pooled testing eliminates the need for contact tracing in schools and the follow-up testing for the “test and stay” program. DESE has monitored the data closely and worked in collaboration with the Department of Public Health to determine that the rate of transmission in schools is extremely low as most transmission of the virus is associated with events outside of school in the home or community. In addition, with the rates of infection decreasing it is recommended that there be a shift in focus from screening to symptomatic testing. For these reasons, we will continue to offer weekly surveillance/pooled testing and testing of symptomatic students. In addition to these components of the surveillance/pooled testing program, we will also now offer free at-home test kits every other week containing two tests for convenient weekly self-administration for students and staff members. The administration of these tests will allow us to identify COVID-19 positive individuals before symptoms appear, but also allow the schools to reduce the number of unnecessary tests for “test and stay.” Please review the guidance below regarding the change in COVID-19 Surveillance/Pooled Testing, which will be in effect upon our return to school from the spring break on April 25, 2022.
COVID Surveillance Testing
At North Adams Public Schools, keeping your students safe and in school is our top priority. We are opting into an at-home testing program that will increase testing of our participating students and staff, regardless of vaccination status. For more information about this update to the statewide testing program, please click here. The at-home testing option will begin April 25, 2022. In addition to this new at-home antigen test option, we will continue with routine COVID-19 safety checks (“surveillance/pooled testing”) and symptomatic testing during the week. This new at-home testing opportunity is voluntary and only those who opt-in will receive tests. We strongly encourage you to fill out the form to opt-in. If you have questions, please contact the district COVID-19 Coordinator, Lisa Randall at email@example.com.
COVID-19 Testing Programs in our Schools:
Brayton and Colegrove Park students: before school on Monday
Drury and Greylock students: before school on Thursday
Routine COVID Safety Checks (“surveillance/pooled testing”) every week (If you have not yet signed up, click here)
*Please email completed consent forms to firstname.lastname@example.org or print and submit to your school nurse.
Overview: At-Home Rapid Testing Program
About the Test: iHealth is a 15-minute at-home FDA Emergency Use Authorized antigen test.
Opt-In: To participate, you must opt-in by completing the online form. By opting in, you will agree to review the training materials for test administration, report positive test results to your student’s school, and administer the tests according to North Adams Public Schools’ guidelines.
Weekly: Every two weeks you will receive an iHealth at-home rapid test kit. Each kit contains two individual tests. Your student will administer one test each week on Monday for Brayton and Colegrove Park Elementary Schools and on Thursday for Drury High School and Greylock Elementary School.
Reporting Positive Test Results: If your student tests positive on an at-home antigen test, you will inform their school of the positive result using the Positive Test Result Notification form. The school will keep the results confidential and will not make individual results public. In addition, it is strongly recommended that you inform your healthcare professional of the positive result.
Easy, Free, and Flexible: This test is administered at home (not at school), reducing the burden on school staff and time to administer tests and increasing a family’s flexibility to do testing in the home for free.
How do I administer the test?
Click here for a full “how to” written guide in various languages
Click here for a video of an individual self-testing
How do I submit results?
Submit Results: You must submit positive test results to your student’s school. Click here to submit a positive test result.
Confidentiality: Positive test results are shared with your school district for informational purposes only. Individual results will remain confidential, and they will never be made public.
As the colder days yield to spring weather, may you and your family enjoy continued good health.
Dr. Barbara Malkas
Superintendent of North Adams Public Schools