Note: Recipient-submitted material; content authored by recipient, not ELC
Information current as of October 6, 2021

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To learn more about Alabama’s school testing plans, visit their websiteexternal icon or contact their school-based screening testing program.

Management structure for school screening

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) leads this project and has formed a task force and scientific committee to discuss and review plans and practices proposed prior to implementation of the plans. Staff from UAB, the Alabama State Department of Education, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), and the Governor’s Office are members of the task force. The scientific committee includes UAB staff, data and medical personnel, physicians, and other experts. The taskforce meets weekly. UAB is implementing activities in a phased approach and is working with the individual school districts as well as private and charter schools. ADPH task force members participate in planning meetings. UAB routinely requests information and guidance from ADPH taskforce members. As part of the grant between UAB and ADPH, UAB reports progress and provides detailed invoices monthly.

Support provided to school districts

Alabama envisions that school districts across the state will vary in engagement in this testing project. UAB is conducting outreach to school systems throughout the state to identify districts’ interests. Once the school districts have agreed, UAB will work with the district to identify the appropriate model for testing and the level of vendor service needed. Because of limited school nurse and related staff capacity, Alabama anticipates that schools will desire a high level of engagement by the vendors (i.e., “turn-key solution”) so that the burden on school staff is limited. Therefore, the vendors will work directly and closely with the UAB team on all aspects of the project. Their organizational structure provides a team of highly qualified program managers and coordinators who will function as relationship managers for both schools and vendors to support all aspects of implementation and program evaluation. Each school and vendor will contribute to the weekly screening programs, oversight, and reporting system. The program serves as an overlay to existing COVID-19 mitigation plans, exposure notification system, reporting positive cases, and triggering the CDC recommendations for quarantining and return to school. To summarize:

  • The COVID-19 testing program will be voluntary, free, and safe. We will only test faculty and staff who have given consent and students whose parents or legal guardians have given consent.
  • The UAB team will work with schools to determine how the testing process will work best for their individual school environments with a goal of minimal interruption to the educational environment.
  • UAB will help match schools with the most appropriate vendor identified through a request for information process. The vendor and the UAB team will work with schools to develop a process to obtain nasal swab samples of K-12 students, faculty, and staff to test for asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.
  • This project will include a multi-phase communications plan to execute the pitching of this opportunity to school districts first and then, if accepted, the resources to educate different populations within each school as to why COVID-19 screening testing is beneficial.
  • UAB K-12 School Reopening staff will work with the UAB University Relations team to develop instructional videos and a message handbook for school districts to explain the need for this testing to their various audiences, including parents, students, school nurses, and school administration.