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 Kentucky’s school testing plans, visit their websiteexternal icon.

Management structure for school screening

Kentucky Department of Public Health (KDPH) is directing and managing all aspects of the K-12 school testing program. KDPH has established an ongoing open request for proposals and contracting process for qualified laboratory service providers that school districts and schools can utilize for testing services. As conditions evolve, KDPH continues to update its guidance on prevention and detection of COVID-19 in K-12 schools. Additionally, KDPH has created a K-12 COVID School Testing Program website for school administrators, which includes a “Lab Marketplace” (list of laboratory vendors and testing options). Using this list, school administrators can identify the laboratory vendor that best suits their needs. KDPH sends an update for the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Commissioner’s Monday email to all superintendents, which has included information about the program and the website link since July. KDE also has a monthly superintendents webinar that either the Commissioner and/or Deputy Commissioner for KDPH attend and are available to answer questions regarding the program or any new guidance. KDPH has also created a position that acts as a Liaison for KDE with KDPH and provides guidance and oversight within KDE of the K-12 Testing Program. Lastly, KDPH will provide regional nurses (through a joint venture with the health department’s preparedness branch) and health administrative staff (with ELC funding) throughout Kentucky’s 15 Area Development Districts. These staff will be responsible for assisting school districts and schools in on-boarding, designing, and implementing testing programs, obtaining consent, performing testing, reporting, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantining.

Support provided to school districts

As of October 2021, KDPH has 21 laboratory service providers onboarded and providing statewide testing to the K-12 school systems. Because Kentucky is a home rule state, local authorities act independently of the state health and education departments. As a result, the testing program in Kentucky is focused on increasing access to testing. For the 963 of 1523 school districts and schools who have signed up to participate, KDPH is holding weekly superintendent and school administrator office hours, which provides schools the opportunity to receive guidance, technical assistance, and have questions answered. KDPH has recently issued a statewide guidance regarding “Test to Stay,” or modified quarantine, causing a large uptake of participation in testing. Statewide legislative guidance has determined all implementation will be at the local level decision process. Testing will be made available regardless of levels of community transmission. The actual testing modality available will be determined by the laboratory vendors, schools/districts, and local health departments. However, KDPH is offering screening, diagnostic, and symptomatic testing, utilizing both rapid antigen testing and PCR.