Orcas Island School District to offer voluntary COVID-19 testing

Guest column

by Eric Webb

Superintendent, Orcas Island School District

Orcas Island School District, in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Health, is participating in a state-funded effort to provide voluntary COVID-19 testing that will be incorporated into our existing district reopening plans. This is a tremendous step in further containing the virus and keeping our students, staff, and community safe and healthy.

Infection Prevention Protocols: Our schools are already implementing multiple layers of protection to mitigate COVID-19 transmission and prevent infections. These include wearing face masks, social distancing, improved ventilation and air filtration, improved cleaning and disinfection, adjustments to foot traffic patterns, hybrid scheduling and cohorts to reduce the number of contacts.

Symptom Check and Report: We are asking everyone – teachers, staff, students and families – whether you are teaching, learning, or visiting our schools, to complete a daily symptom and exposure check. Symptoms include a fever of over 100.4° F, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue, headache, muscle or body aches, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Exposure means that you have had contact with someone who has had COVID-19 in the past 14 days. People who report symptoms or exposure screen into the free and easy testing process.

Voluntary Testing: Teachers, staff, and students who show symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 will be referred for free testing on campus the same day. OISD will also provide free testing to asymptomatic students and staff every Wednesday from 3:30- 5:30 p.m.

Curative PCR Testing: This is a self-administered collection of a saliva sample under the observation of a trained test administrator. Results will be available in 48-72 hours.

BinaxNOW Antigen (Rapid) Testing: This a self-administered collection from a nasal swab under the observation of a trained test administrator. Results are available within 15-20 minutes. Those with a positive test result will be required to take a PCR test and quarantine for 14 days or until the district receives a confirmation of a negative result.

Outbreak Response: When a positive case is identified, the school will activate its outbreak mitigation testing plan, working closely with San Juan County Health and Community Services, to offer free testing to everyone who has had contact with a positive COVID-19 person. All contacts will be asked to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the test results, in order to prevent further household or community transmission.

Contact Tracing: Each positive case will be reported to San Juan County Health and Community Services for case investigation and contact tracing in order to prevent further transmission.

Post Spring Break Testing Clinic: A COVID-19 PCR Testing Clinic will be held on Friday, April 23 from 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. for asymptomatic OISD students and employees who traveled out of state over spring break and are not fully vaccinated. Results will be available within 48-72 hours.

Students can register for the PCR testing clinic at https://curative.com/sites/27747/walkup. To make an appointment, go to https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0e45afaa2babff2-covid19.

Those returning from spring break with symptoms may not attend the testing clinic on April 23, and are advised to contact OISD Nurse Cindy Sapp at csapp@orcas.k12.wa.us to schedule a separate testing appointment.

Future testing: The district will offer asymptomatic testing for OISD students and employees each Wednesday from 3:30–5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria using the BinaxNOW Rapid Test. Symptomatic testing will be done on an as-needed basis using the Curative PCR test.

Please know how grateful I am for all of the safety measures you have taken and the sacrifices you have made to keep our students, staff, and community safe.