Note: Recipient-submitted material; content authored by recipient, not ELC
Information current as of October 6, 2021
Management structure for school screening
The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) provides the overall guidance and technical support to schools in the state of Indiana. In conjunction with CDC K-12 School Guidance, the IDOH has developed recommendations and guidelines to ensure schools have the resources to remain full-time in-person learning.
Specially for this award, IDOH created a partnership with Gravity Diagnostics to support the state in providing end-to-end testing services for schools and communities experiencing high levels of COVID-19 transmission. Gravity Diagnostics will collect specimens at schools and provide laboratory testing.
The IDOH will also provide funding through mini grants to local health departments to use for supporting schools in their jurisdictions. This funding will allow schools to increase detection and mitigation of COVID-19. The mini grants will be awarded to local health departments based on population size. Each local health department will be awarded enough funding to support at least one school nurse or equivalent, who will act as the local liaison to schools.
Support provided to school districts
Indiana has approximately 409 public and charter school districts with a combined total of just over one million students. Over 90% of these schools have remained open for the 2020-2021 school year. Some school districts started with or moved to virtual learning early in the 2020-2021 year due to high community COVID-19 activity but ultimately moved to in-person learning.
In early 2021, the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) began distributing BinaxNow COVID-19 testing cards and personal protective equipment (PPE) to all Indiana schools. The IDOH partnered with the Indiana National Guard to conduct a train-the-trainer for the use of the BinaxNow COVID-19 cards; these trainees in turn began training school personnel throughout the state. This program allows schools to test students, faculty, and staff onsite with rapid test results due to illness or return from 7-day quarantine. The IDOH continues to support the BinaxNow COVID-19 cards utilizing ELC Reopening Schools funding. IDOH will also continue to build guidance and opportunities for schools to utilize BinaxNow COVID-19 cards, such as screening in extracurricular activities, summer camps, and summer schools.
The IDOH’s long term goal with this funding is to ultimately have PCR-based testing available within a 20-minute drive for more than 90% of the K-12 population in the state. To accomplish this, IDOH has partnered with Gravity Diagnostics. Not only will Gravity Diagnostics set up fixed-site community clinics, but they will also have teams that can be deployed to schools to assist in COVID screening and/or outbreak testing support. The IDOH will also be providing funding to local health jurisdiction so they are able to hire additional personnel to work directly with schools to identify needs and provide guidance and support.
To support the IDOH’s school testing objectives, Gravity Diagnostics will provide voluntary testing for COVID-19 and associated services in K-12 school settings statewide. Gravity Diagnostics will coordinate, implement, and manage end-to-end testing (registration, testing supply provision/coordination, collection, laboratory testing/analysis, reporting, etc.) of Indiana’s K-12 school students, faculty, and staff. They will have the operational flexibility to adapt to multiple testing contexts, populations, as directed by the IDOH or schools. Gravity Diagnostics will also be coordinating with each school district to determine individual school participation and work with them to complete a school testing plan based on the needs of that school/district (on-going testing schedule, testing setup, reporting, etc.). In addition, they will assist in advertising the testing programs available at school events and outreach.