Note: Recipient-submitted material; content authored by recipient, not ELC
Information current as of October 6, 2021
Management structure for school screening and support provided to school districts
Local Education Agencies (LEA) have developed and are implementing COVID-19 Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service Plans for the 2021-2022 school year. Each plan describes a layered mitigation strategy and is tailored to each community. The plans incorporate a range of protective measures, policies, and procedures including mask wearing, social distancing, cohorting and podding, screening, testing, ventilation, hand washing, encouragement of vaccination, and more. Additionally, many schools are actively promoting vaccination for recommended students. Since August 16, 2021, Delaware has mandated that all students, faculty, and staff wear masks in schools.
Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) provides support in several ways. To assist LEAs with planning and decision-making, DPH has developed guidance for precautions and protections for children that stresses the importance of testing, social distancing, mask wearing, and encouragement of vaccination. DPH has also partnered with Delaware Department of Education to issue comprehensive COVID-19 guidance and recommendations to schools. The guidance, updated throughout the year, aligns with CDC recommendations, and describes evidence-based practices that schools can incorporate in their plans. Finally, DPH provides community and school-level COVID-19 data.
Screening testing support is core to the implementation of district and school COVID-19 plans. For the 2021-2022 school year, DPH is partnering with Quidel to provide asymptomatic COVID-19 screening services to all Delaware LEAs and licensed childcare facilities. Schools have the option to participate in the program. Quidel works with each participating school to develop protocols tailored to the school’s needs. For example, schools can choose the location for sample collection (in a central location or in individual classrooms), the frequency with which students and staff are tested, and the time-of-day samples are collected. Quidel also manages the parent and staff testing authorization process. Through this program, students, faculty, and childcare providers that opt-in to the COVID-19 screening program will be testing with Quidel’s rapid antigen tests. Quidel also provides reflex PCR testing for individuals testing positive. The PCR tests are processed at the state laboratory and results are expected within 24 hours.