District reminds families about COVID-19 surveillance testing opportunities

In partnership with Onondaga County, Fayetteville-Manlius School District will continue to offer weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing in each of its schools and families can still register to participate.

Surveillance testing screens for the prevalence of COVID-19 in the school community and identifies asymptomatic individuals. Onondaga County’s goal is to randomly test 10% of the respective school populations (students and staff) once a week in order to determine the prevalence and spread of the virus throughout Central New York. 

The surveillance testing is held in F-M schools on Fridays and targets a random sample of the staff/student population. The research plan aims to target around 10% of the total population every week (sampling with replacement) in order to maximize the power of the study.  This friendly reminder is being sent as the sampling plan has fallen short of its original goal in an effort to ensure statistical accuracy and reliability. 

The method of testing is pooled saliva, and Quadrant Biosciences in Syracuse conducts the sample analysis. The sample is collected by using a small swab, similar to a Q-Tip, to collect saliva from the inside of an individual’s mouth.  Twelve individual samples are combined together for the initial pooled test.

To enroll and provide consent to Onondaga County for surveillance testing, families can register via Quadrant Biosciences. The cost for the surveillance testing in schools is being underwritten by the Onondaga County Health Department using funds from a federal grant. Quadrant Biosciences is collecting insurance information at the time of registration so it can bill the insurance carrier if reflex testing is needed. However, there is no cost to parents or guardians for this billing as Quadrant will not send any residual bills to parents. Any cost not covered by insurance will be covered through the county grant. 

Should any initial pool test positive, it is recommended that all individuals tested in that pool will have to pre-quarantine as a precaution until a second round of individual test results from the students and/or staff in that pool are returned. This secondary round of sampling, called reflex testing, will determine who in the initial pool is COVID-19 positive, and from there, the county will determine if further quarantining is necessary and by whom. 

Families can opt out of surveillance testing at any time. For more information, including frequently asked questions about surveillance testing in schools, please visit the district’s COVID-19 webpage.