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One-time Covid-testing clinic held at AHS

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For symptomatic students who tested positive between Jan. 1-5

To continue keeping people safe on campus during the continuing pandemic, even though infection rates in Arlington Public Schools appear to be lower than in the community as a whole, the school system held a one-time Covid-19 testing clinic Sunday, Jan. 9.

The town's public schools was the host for the clinic from 2 to 4 p.m. at Arlington High School, says a two-page document from Superintendent Elizabeth Homan sent to families in their preferred languages and made public Friday via Twitter. “Any students who were symptomatic or tested positive for Covid-19 between Jan. 1, 2022, and Jan. 5, 2022, are eligible to attend this clinic,” it says. 

Contacted Saturday afternoon, Dr. Homan said that, to be tested Sunday, “They do not necessarily need to be completely asymptomatic but will need to confirm that symptoms are significantly resolved. Revised Protocol A requires that they have been without fever for 24 hours (without taking fever-reducing medications) and have experienced improvement in other symptoms.”

Revised Protocol A is stricter than what the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the body that regulates public schools in the commonwealth, currently requires. This is the reason, according to the document:

“This revised protocol will be considered a pilot protocol through the month of January. We are requiring a negative antigen test to return on days 6 to 10 after consultation with the Arlington Health and Human Services Department. Current studies suggest that individuals can still have active and contagious infections after Day 5. Antigen tests indicate the presence of an active Covid-19 infection. In the interest of keeping our schools open and reducing the spread of Covid-19 in our community, we feel it is important to avoid allowing still-infectious individuals into our schools.”

APS employees will conduct Sunday’s clinic, possibly with assistance from testing vendor CIC. Homan and Assistant Superintendent Roderick MacNeal Jr. will also be present, as will a police detail.

The statement says, “Please keep in mind that students may only test to return with APS one time between days 6-10; this is to preserve valuable testing resources. Please be sure symptoms have significantly resolved before attending a Test to Return Clinic.” 

Revised Protocol A applies equally to all on-campus employees. Homan told YourArlington that “We will test staff who qualify if they show up, but we are also able to test staff on-site when they arrive to work on Monday and if they qualify for return.”

For the past several months, the town’s public schools have conducted weekly anonymous on-campus “pooled” testing of students. Based on last week’s test results, the infection rate in the public schools may be on the order of a quarter of that in the town as a whole.

Per the statement, “APS conducted 5,994 individual pooled (PCR) tests last week and returned 125 positive results, with a case positivity rate of 2.09%. For reference, the Town of Arlington’s 14-day test positivity rate was 8.85% on 1/6/22. There were a total of 838 pools, and 713 of those pools did not return a positive result. We will return to our regular pooled testing schedule next week.”

The superintendent’s full written statement, which includes links to other relevant public-health-related documents, is here >>

This news announcement was published Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

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