COVID-19 Testing Program - A New Standard in Public Education
To All in the School Community,
I hope this note finds you and your family safe and well. It’s been six long months since school facilities closed due to the pandemic. We all want students back in the best learning environment, a classroom, as soon as possible. But we need to balance sometimes conflicting objectives – the learning needs of students, the impact the virus is having on working families and protecting the health and safety of the school community. Our goal is to ensure that when health conditions in the area allow for a return by students to schools, we bring them back in the safest way possible.
Our return-to-school plan has three main parts – state-of-the-art health practices at schools, COVID-19 testing for students and staff and the ability to notify and isolate any members of the school community who may have come in contact with the virus.
The health practices are in place. Classrooms and facilities are electrostatically cleaned top to bottom, air-conditioning systems have been upgraded with the equivalent of N-95 filters, personal protective equipment is provided to all individuals at a campus and classrooms and facilities have been reconfigured to keep all at a school a safer distance apart. When students do return to schools, they’ll be kept in small cohorts to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. And as we learn of other ways to enhance health practices, we’ll incorporate them as quickly as possible.
The effort to test for the virus in the school community is now under way. While unprecedented, the virus testing, community engagement and contact-tracing program is necessary and appropriate as we must do everything we can to protect the health and safety of all in the school community. I want to provide you with a brief overview of how the health screening and COVID-19 testing program will work.
All students and staff will be offered an initial, baseline COVID-19 test sometime in the next several weeks. We’ve already provided tests for staff who are currently working at schools as well their children who are participating in childcare. The week of October 5th we’ll start offering tests to all staff, whether they are working at a school or not, as well as students who are enrolled in early education centers and elementary schools. As you can imagine, with almost 700,000 students and more than 75,000 employees, it will take some time to complete. Once the elementary students are receiving tests, we’ll begin to offer testing to middle and high school students as well. Testing will also be offered to family members of those who test positive or show symptoms of the virus.
These initial tests will provide valuable information about the incidence of COVID-19 in the communities we serve to inform the scientists, researchers and epidemiologists who are assisting with the program. The baseline testing will help reduce the spread of the disease by identifying those with the virus so they can be kept apart from others.
Immediately prior to the reopening of schools, all students and staff who will be returning to schools, will be provided with a further, back-to-school, baseline test. Students whose families choose for them to remain in online instruction and staff who are not working at schools will not be part of the testing program once students return to school facilities. The students and staff at schools will continue to be part of a program with periodic testing based on advice from our science partners.
The testing process is simple. You’ll receive a notice from your child’s principal (for students) or immediate supervisor (for employees) that it’s time to be tested. Future notifications will be sent electronically via the new Daily Pass App. You can make an appointment online, using a phone or computer including the one Los Angeles Unified has provided, at one of the many schools where testing is being provided. There’s a quick check-in upon arrival at the site and a clinician will be there to help oversee the testing. While we recommend the use of nasal swabs, anyone can request a sputum test if they prefer. Both tests are what’s known as PCR tests, the gold standard for COVID-19 testing. The test is free and the process should take less than 10 minutes, start to finish.
You’ll receive the test result within 24-36 hours via text and email. All results will be kept confidential and stored in a separate, secure database. Information will be shared only with the appropriate scientists, administrators and health authorities.
You will also receive a text or email asking you to download a Daily Pass App built for Los Angeles Unified by Microsoft that helps tie all parts of the program together. All students, staff and visitors will be able to use the App to be admitted to a campus, much like one uses an electronic ticket to attend a Dodgers’ game or board an airplane at LAX.
The App will help you with a simple, daily health check and inform you when it’s time for a COVID-19 test. In simple terms, after an initial, negative test and as long as an individual shows no symptoms, the App will admit that person to a school campus or district facility. If the test is positive or symptoms appear, then the individual will be referred to the appropriate health authorities for care.
A pilot program to test the App will be conducted at several schools this week. Feedback gathered during the pilot will assist us as we roll out the Daily Pass App for use by all in the school community. An email or text will be sent in another week or so with a link that includes instructions on how to download the App. More information can be found at https://achieve.lausd.net/covidtesting, on Los Angeles Unified’s YouTube channel (@LosAngelesSchools) or by calling the Helpdesk at (213) 443-1300. Here’s a short video which helps explain the testing process.
While the testing is not mandatory for employees working from home, we appreciate your participation in this important program. Much like efforts to screen for tuberculosis or other infectious diseases, this program will be more effective if everyone is part of it. We’ll continue to keep you informed on our plans to bring students back to schools in the safest way possible.
Thank you for your continued patience and support.
Quick Guide: COVID-19 Testing Program
This Quick Guide provides a brief overview of the COVID-19 testing program. The program is subject to change, and the processes and procedures described herein may be modified. Any changes will be shared in an updated Quick Guide. Please view a brief video that provides a comprehensive overview of the testing program.
COVID-19 Testing Program Overview
Los Angeles Unified is implementing a program to provide the highest standard of safety measures at schools. The key components of the program include daily health checks, COVID-19 testing of students and staff, and community engagement to follow up on positive cases of COVID-19 and employees who may have been exposed or are not feeling well. Additionally, reporting procedures have been developed in accordance with the law to keep the school community informed of this testing and its results and of the District’s continued health mitigation measures.
Below are brief descriptions of the key components of the program.
Daily Health Check
In early October, the District will be releasing a digital application called the Daily Pass. This application will be used by all employees, students and visitors to complete a required daily health check for admission to a campus or office. The daily health check will monitor for safe behaviors, physical wellness and potential exposure to the virus. Those who affirmatively complete the daily health check will receive a Daily Pass that can be used for admission to schools or District offices.
Individuals who do not have access to the app can complete the health survey at a school or office entrance.
No-touch temperature checks will be implemented at all schools as an additional screening tool.
COVID-19 testing of all employees and students will be done on a regular basis, at frequencies recommended by a consortium of leading health experts from UCLA, the Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University. Additionally, household members who are symptomatic or may have been exposed to a student or employee who tests positive will be offered testing.
The District is providing nasal swab tests as the primary testing method. A saliva test is also available to children or adults, if requested. Test kits have been procured from labs that are able to provide most test results within 24-36 hours and is being provided to all at no charge to anyone receiving a test.
Individuals will be notified via email and/or phone call when it is time to schedule their baseline test appointment. The samples collected will be scanned, packaged and sent to the lab. Test results and demographic data collected during the testing process will be shared with public health authorities in accordance with the law. All test results and data collected will be kept in a secure database and kept private. Some of the data will also be provided to our health experts at UCLA, the Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University for additional research which will hopefully inform others across the nation or world of ways to keep our schools safer. Any information shared with outside parties will be in full compliance with privacy law and only with consent from any participant in the testing program.
Testing is currently being provided at 41 testing sites. Each testing site is located at a school within each Community of Schools.
Participation in the COVID-19 Testing Program
All employees and students will be provided with an initial baseline test followed by periodic testing at frequencies recommended by a consortium of leading health experts from UCLA, the Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University.
The first phase of testing includes employees who are currently working at school sites or offices and employees and their children participating in the childcare program. The second phase of testing will include all staff who is currently working from home. The third phase of initial testing will include all students. If an employee or student becomes symptomatic or tests positive, the employee or student and household members who may have been exposed will be given instructions to quarantine and referred for testing.
Return to Work
Staff working at any COVID-19 Testing Center or any childcare program must be tested and have a negative test result before reporting to work. For any subsequent tests, staff will continue to report to their assigned site while they await test results.
All other staff will continue to report to work while they await test results.
The District has formed a dedicated Community Engagement team to contact those with a positive test result, as well as those who may have been exposed or are not feeling well. Community engagement is a confidential process used to reduce the spread of the virus. Those known to be exposed to an employee or student with the virus will be contacted and will be referred for testing and medical care as appropriate.
When an employee or student tests positive they will receive a link to view their test result via text and email with instructions to isolate immediately. The Community Engagement team will call the individual the same day. The team will provide isolation instructions and proceed to contact household members, employees, and students who may have been in contact with a positive case, provide quarantine instructions and refer them for a test. Details of the case and
the list of those exposed is submitted to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to conduct further contact tracing.
Within Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines, Los Angeles Unified will provide various reports to schools and the community about tests administered, the number of positive cases, positivity rates, as well as information about Daily Passes issued. The District-wide dashboard is currently the only dashboard being published. Additional dashboards with Community of Schools and school level data will be available when students return to campus.
Written communications, signage, flyers, videos and other materials will be provided shortly to help employees, students, and families understand the program including the new daily health check, COVID-19 testing and other program components.
Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions
- What should I do if my test result is inconclusive, invalid or if I don’t receive a result within 2 days?
You should schedule an appointment for a new test as soon as possible at http://achieve.lausd.net/covidtestingappt
- What if I missed my appointment, can I reschedule my test?
Yes. You may reschedule at http://achieve.lausd.net/covidtestingappt
- Can I make an appointment at a testing site near my home?
Yes, you can schedule an appointment at any of the testing sites.
- What if I am having trouble booking an appointment?
The Los Angeles Unified help desk can provide assistance from 6am to 6pm Monday through Saturday. Families can call (213) 443-1300 and staff can call (213) 241-2700.
- How will administrators or supervisors be informed about their employee status?
Principals and supervisors will be informed of any employee who should not be admitted onto campus. In October, the Daily Pass app will have the capability to link test results and display a QR code that will allow for admission by students, staff and families to school sites or offices.
- Can I get tested through my own Health Care Provider?
Yes. Results must be valid and submitted within 3 days of taking the test. Employees should email their results to CE@lausd.net or fax to (213) 241-8919.
- Will I be able to choose whether to use the nasal swab test?
Currently a nasal test is the primary test being administered by Los Angeles Unified. A saliva test is also available at all test sites and can be approved by the medical department, as needed.
- What is the distinction between isolation and quarantine?
Health authorities require those who have tested positive for COVID-19 to complete an “isolation” period; those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms of COVID-19 to complete a “quarantine” period. In practice, isolation and quarantine both mean to stay home and stay separated from others who have not been exposed to COVID-19.
- What if I am unable to test due to medical reasons?
Employees who are unable to test due to medical conditions will need to provide medical certification to be evaluated by the COVID-19 testing program’s Medical Director, Dr. Murray Lappe. Contact Dr. Lappe at email@example.com.
- May I ask staff to show me their test results?
No. A test result is personal health information protected by HIPAA and an individual does not have to disclose test results. In October, the Daily Pass app will have the capability to link test results and display a QR code that will allow for admission to school sites or offices.
You can also check out this video to learn more about the testing program.
- What should I do if my test result is inconclusive, invalid or if I don’t receive a result within 2 days?
COVID-19 Testing Available Now
Make An Appointment
To prepare students to return to school in the safest way possible as soon as it’s appropriate to do so, Los Angeles Unified is providing free COVID-19 testing for all students. Please make a testing appointment for your child now.
A New Standard in Public Education
For families: (213) 443-1300
For employees: (213) 241-2700
The helpdesk is open 6 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday for any questions about Los Angeles Unified and the coronavirus pandemic.
Student & family wellness:
The helpdesk is open 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Please call for support with mental health, immunizations, health insurance, food & housing, enrollment, and more.
Mighty Mustang Gets a COVID-19 Test