As this school year has progressed, USD 456 has certainly experienced change in various forms, mostly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. With those changes comes new perspective, new understanding, and new procedures. One of the perspectives gained during this time of change is the handling of students or staff who become ill during the course of the school day. Typically, phone calls are made home, plans are created and the individual goes home until they are no longer ill. During a pandemic, the question becomes whether or not an individual needs to or should be tested for COVID-19. We have seen countless individuals and families struggle with this question as they want to do whatever they can to prevent the spread of illness but run into barriers to testing. Many times these barriers to testing can range from the process to get approval for testing, travel the distance needed to get the testing, or dealing with the wait for results. Therefore, USD 456 has attempted to find a solution.

In coordination with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, to aid our community in dealing with the uncertainty of having their students or school staff become symptomatically ill, USD 456 has gained the ability to test students and staff for COVID-19 with a minimally invasive rapid test, which can be administered by entry-trained individuals, and is over 97% accurate under the appropriate testing conditions - called the BinaxNOW COVID-19 AG Card. This test will be utilized to test consenting parties within our buildings to aid in the uncertainty of virus contraction, reduce the time needed to wait for test results, and help mitigate the spread within our community.

In reference to the test's use, for example, a student reports to the office and indicates to staff their head is hurting significantly. Upon assessment of the significance and consultation with a parent, it is determined the student needs to go home as they are ill. However, during that conversation with the parent, they are asked if they would like to proceed with a COVID-19 test for their student, being that the student is exhibiting symptoms that could be related to the illness. The parent provides verbal consent while on the phone. While awaiting to be picked up from school, staff administers the test, swabbing the interior of the student's nostrils and testing the collected specimen. The result will be available within 15 minutes, approximately just in time for when the parent arrives to pick up their student. 

Administering the test can have multiple variations as the test is designed to be performed by anyone receiving minimal instructions, not just medical professionals. Therefore, given the nature of swabbing someone's nose, staff and many ages of students can perform this act on their own under the guidance and instruction of select staff. Additionally, parents can perform the swabbing of the nose of their student if they would prefer. We want to do everything we can to make sure the administration of the test is as comfortable as possible.

Stipulations by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and in accordance with our testing waiver do require us to keep record of the administration of the test and the result. All positive results will be shared directly with the Osage County Health Department to be processed according to present COVID-19 health standards. All testing related information will be kept confidential.

We are excited to be able to bring this opportunity to our district and continue to strive to keep our students, staff, and our community as safe as possible during this pandemic. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

If you are interested in learning more about the BinaxNOW COVID-19 AG Card, please follow this LINK.