Santa Cruz County COVID-19 Surveillance Testing System (STS)
For School Personnel


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Adequate surveillance testing is one of the key components required to be in place in order for schools to resume in-person instruction safely and prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education and all Santa Cruz County School Districts and Charter Schools have partnered with Stanford Health Care and Valencia Labs to make surveillance testing available to school personnel at no cost to the employee. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends that adequate surveillance testing would include a minimum of 25% of essential school staff to be tested every two weeks, or 50% a month. In addition to the recurring appointments required by CDPH, we will also offer (open) testing to any school employee who requests it.

Surveillance testing will incur no costs to the employee. Recent California legislation enacted emergency COVID-19 regulations which expand the scope of diagnostic testing that plans must cover to include COVID-19 for essential workers, which means that all insurance providers will be mandated to cover the full cost of these tests (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 28, § 1300.67.01).

Privacy for these tests is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The Santa Cruz County Office of Education role in this partnership is to help provide a testing site, coordinate logistics for testing, and help communicate this process with Santa Cruz County school personnel. Tests results will be shared only with the testing lab and a requesting physician if a test result is positive for COVID-19. Should a test result come back positive, the requesting physician will notify Santa Cruz County Public Health to initiate contact tracing. The contact tracing protocol would also result in the staff member’s school district being notified of the positive result. This COVID-19 test is a self-administered nasal swab collection.

Two Testing Labs Used

Stanford Lab Testing

Working closely with Stanford Labs, staff are observed by a Registered Nurse to complete testing. Staff are required to book appointments at least 2-weeks in advance for label processing. Staff testing with Stanford REQUIRE medical insurance. Results are delivered via Stanford MyHealth Account explained in Prepare For Testing.

Valencia Lab Testing (Color)

Valencia Branch Laboratory is an innovative new laboratory in California that is designed to increase the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity and reduce test turnaround time. Medical Insurance is NOT mandatory with Valencia Labs Partnering with California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Valencia Labs appointments can be booked for next-day appointments beginning the week of February 9th. Valencia Labs uses a data system called Color for registration and test reporting explaining in Prepare for Testing.

Staff will be assigned different lab tests depending upon availability, schedule and insurance coverage.

Testing Eligibility

The Santa Cruz COE COVID-19 STS is designed for asymptomatic school personnel who work in Santa Cruz County. Individuals who work in Santa Cruz County but live in neighboring counties are eligible. Dependents of school personnel are not eligible for testing through the Santa Cruz COE COVID-19 STS.

Not eligible for testing?

Prior to Testing

Staff are expected to complete the steps on the "Prepare for Testing" page of this site. We ask school staff not to report to the testing site if they are experiencing any COVID-19 Symptoms: Fever, chills, Cough, Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, Fatigue, Muscle/body aches, Headache, New loss of taste or smell, Sore throat, Congestion, runny nose, Nausea, vomiting, or Diarrhea.

Testing Process

Staff will conduct a self-administered nostril swab test in the presence of a trained professional, and test results will be returned to the staff member within 72 hours. A professional will be available at the testing location to provide oral instructions and observe each staff member to ensure the test is conducted properly. No contact will be required between the staff member and the staff overseeing the testing operation.

Stanford Testing Process

Each day, test specimens will be transported to the Stanford Health Care lab by a Stanford Health Care courier. Tests may be analyzed in pools of 4 or 8 samples for efficiency. If any specimen within a testing pool is positive for SARS-CoV-2, each individual specimen within that pool will be tested again to identify which individuals have tested for a positive result.

Should a test result come back positive, the staff member will be notified via phone and secure messaging through the Stanford patient portal, MyHealth. The requesting physician would also notify Santa Cruz County Public Health of a positive test result in order to initiate contact tracing.

Valencia Labs Testing Process

Specimens will bee shipped to Valencia Labs every 24-48 hours. Valencia Labs uses techniques developed by PerkinElmer to identify the virus. Results will be delivered within 48 hours of the receiving the specimen. Results will be Emailed and texted vis SMS to the staff member. Results can also be viewed by on Color website by entering the barcode # of the specimen tube (provided to staff during testing) and staff's birthdate.

The following test locations will be available for Testing:

  • Santa Cruz County COE Garage at 400 Encinal St., Santa Cruz

  • Pajaro Valley Unified School District Office at 294 Green Valley Rd., Watsonville

To participate in this partnership, School Districts and charter schools will need to complete a Memorandum of Understanding, work with labor representatives, and identify the staff members who will participate in the testing plan.