Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQs on the Weekly PCR Testing Program

Why are we providing optional weekly testing for students?

Screening testing is part of a comprehensive strategy that includes masking indoors, vaccination, isolation/quarantine protocols, keeping students home when they are ill and more. CDPH recommends screening with a molecular test with a weekly frequency. They assert that molecular testing as a screening tool is most effective when turnaround times are short (<2 days)." With inspire Diagnostics, turnaround times are 24 hours.

Is the Weekly PCR testing initiative being mandated for students?

No, the PCR testing effort requires consent and is voluntary.

Can students consent to participate in the weekly PCR testing program?

In accordance with CDPH, students, who are age 13 and up, can consent to be tested. Schools will be notifying all parents of the program and request their consent.

What does the program look like for students?

All students who have a consent form completed will be tested during school hours, on campus. The trained Inspire healthcare worker uses a swab to collect respiratory material found in the lower nasal. A swab is a soft tip on a flexible stick that goes into the lower part of a student’s nasal passage. The entire collection process should take only a few minutes. After collection, the swab is sealed in a tube and then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

How will I know the result of the PCR?

Parents will be notified within 24 hours of the sample being taken, via text and email.

Who can participate in Modified Quarantine?

For students to participate in Modified Quarantine, exposure needs to have occurred in a school setting and both individuals need to be masked. Vaccinated students do not need to quarantine if exposed.

What happens if a student does not participate in the weekly testing initiative?

Unvaccinated students who are exposed and don’t qualify for Modified Quarantine or choose not to participate in testing would have to quarantine at home for 10 days.

How often will students be tested?

All students who have a consent completed will be tested once a week. Students who are exposed to a positive case will be tested a second time that week.

Are the CDC or FDA phasing out the PCR tests?

The CDC recently issued a Lab Alert: Changes to CDC RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 Testing to communicate a transition to new tests. The CDC is withdrawing the Emergency Use Authorization by Dec 31, 2021 to transition to the use of a new "multiplexed method" test they have developed. This new test not only searches for SARS-CoV-2 (as the PCR currently does) but also searches for the influenza virus, so that a separate test for influenza is not needed to be administered, saving time and money. One misunderstanding is that PCR tests are unable to differentiate between influenza and SARS-CoV-2; this is not accurate.

Is the PCR test effective?

According to the FDA and to the CDC, the PCR is a NAAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) that continues to be the "gold standard" for identifying SARS-CoV-2. We will transition to using newer tests once they are approved by CDPH.

Should vaccinated individuals also participate in the weekly PCR Program?

We recommend all individuals participate in the program, especially if they have been exposed to a positive case. We are seeing positive cases among vaccinated individuals, who may be contagious.

FAQ on Proof of Vaccination

Can schools request vaccine information about students?

Yes. Schools are authorized to request this information to determine who needs to quarantine when there is an exposure.

Are Students and Parents required to provide proof of vaccination?

No. Submitting this information is voluntary.

What represents proof of vaccination?

Proof of vaccination can be an unaltered photograph of a student’s vaccine card or a record from Two weeks must have elapsed from the completion date of the vaccine series (2nd dose of Pfizer or Moderna, 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson).

Can schools offer parents the option to email proof of vaccination?

Yes, according to CDPH, the school can offer a variety of ways for schools to collect vaccine information as long as this process is kept personal and confidential. This

What will schools do with the information?

Schools will document the vaccination information in the Student Information System health records. This will be used to determine which students need to quarantine in case students are exposed to a positive COVID19 case. CDPH requirements allow fully vaccinated students to remain in school after exposure and highly recommend testing. If the exposure occurred at school and both parties were masked, CDPH allows unvaccinated students to participate in Modified Quarantine as long as they test twice a week.