FAQ About COVID-19 Testing of SLPS Employees
I am working remotely now (or on flex schedule), when am I to get tested?
In July, you will be notified of a testing period that coincides with your return to work or, if working remotely, with the start of the school year.
Students can transmit the virus even without being symptomatic. Why are students not being tested?
At this time, testing non-symptomatic children is not being recommended. However, if a child appears symptomatic, that student is to be held in an isolation area (designated at each facility) with a designated staff person, until he or she can be picked up. That holding area will then we completely sanitized and disinfected immediately after.
What prevents me, a person who has tested negative, from becoming infected as soon as I go to my building?
Unfortunately, there are no guaranteed safeguards, but we are making investments in personal protective equipment (masks/gloves as needed) safety products and materials and are working hard to ensure safety.
Because you are regularly exposed to a number of situations in which you could contract the virus, there are no guarantees that you will not become infected once you start work. However, the District has adopted several protocols to help ensure your safety as best we can. Here are some of the key mandates:
- All District buildings, offices and schools are allowing only essential visitors (providing education support or materials) at this time and by appointment only.
- Visitors and parents will be required to adhere to the same protocols as employees and students.
- All District employees, on-site partners and contract workers must test negative for the virus within ten (10) days before reporting to work the first time. (If you test positive you must isolate until your medical provider clears you to resume regular activities (including going to work).
- A brief health screening is required before anyone is allowed into a District building. The screening includes a few quick questions on symptoms and exposure and a temperature check with a touchless thermometer. (Those with reading of 100.4 or higher will not be able to enter.)
- Every adult (including essential visitors) and students age nine (9) and over must wear a mask to work and school each day.
- Every employee will be issued two, washable cloth masks.
- Masks will be issued to every student age nine (9) and older.
- Masks will be issued to all bus riders regardless of age. (ALL ages must wear masks while riding the school bus, but students under nine (9) may take them off once they arrive at school).
- The District will follow the City Guidelines for social distancing within schools at all times and signs will be reminders to distance in elevators, conference rooms, lounges, restrooms, auditoriums, etc.
- While distancing at offices and facilities will be maintained at 6 ft., distancing will look different at the school level where classrooms will be reconfigured to ensure students maintain distance as is practical (3 ft. radius).
- Proper handwashing will be reinforced and time allotted for visits to portable washers or restrooms.
- District custodians are working on adjusted schedules that allow for deep cleaning and sanitizing as well as regular cleaning of high touch surfaces. We are using the commercial grade cleaners recommended by the Health Department and the CDC and have ample stock in storage.
- We are adjusting traditional routines and practices to provide limited contact and exposure. (Prior to the start of school, you will soon receive additional protocols for specific classes, clubs, lunch and recess.)
Why are we taking the test if we are feeling fine and not showing symptoms?
Some persons can be infected with COVID-19 and not develop symptoms. At this time, we are not certain how effectively those persons can spread the virus to others. As a precaution, the District and the DOH want to do all they can to protect the health of staff, students, families, and community at large.
Will my COVID-19 results be shared?
Your results are your protected health information. The District is asking that all staff willingly provide results. However, because COVID-19 is a reportable communicable disease in the state of Missouri, the DOH will receive the test result for any person living in the City of St. Louis that has a positive COVID-19 test. For persons who do not live in the City of St. Louis, the local health department in their jurisdiction of residence will receive their test result. Public Health actions such as these are necessary to ensure proper measures are implemented to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19.
A negative test does not mean I will not become infected later. What happens then?
It is true that a negative COVID-19 test does not mean you will not test positive later, that is why the additional protocols are in place. Please do not report to school or office if you are symptomatic (e.g., chills, fever of 100.4 or higher, difficulty breathing) or if you believe you have had close contact with someone who is symptomatic or, have had prolonged contact (without wearing face covering) with someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19. Our Human Resources team is working to ensure that you have the proper support, up to and including Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the event you are unable to return to work.
What is the test? Does it hurt?
The test is a quick swab of your nasal passage. You might experience a bit of discomfort, but you will not likely feel pain.
What happens if I test positive during the school year?
Please do not report to school or office if you are symptomatic (e.g., chills, fever of 100.4 or higher, difficulty breathing) or if you believe you have come in contact with someone who is symptomatic. An employee who tests positive must contact their supervisor to inform them of their condition. Additionally, they should contact the our Human Resources team to ensure that you have the proper support (e.g., FMLA) in the event you are deemed unable to return to work.
Will I be tested for the antibodies?
The DOH is requiring only COVID 19 testing. They are using PCR testing, the gold standard, which tests for the presence of the virus. It is important that the DOH know who is currently infected. Serology testing (also referred to as antibody testing), only provides information about previous infection.
What happens if a number of people test positive in the school year?
If a few people test positive, we will work with the DOH to put added precautions in place. If 25% or more inhabitants of a particular building should test positive, the DOH will likely mandate a close of that site for a temporary time. We will then pick up with remote work, teaching and learning.
We have so many employees, why doesn’t the District administer the tests at a district location to make it easier for us?
We are looking into that possibility, but at this time, the City is permitting staff to obtain the test at any testing site convenient to them and report the results to the District confidentially at COVIDresults@slps.org. You may arrange a time with your supervisor to leave work and get the test.
Are all school districts mandating testing?
All public, charter, independent and catholic schools in the City are cooperating with the mandates of the DOH. County schools fall under the jurisdiction of the St. Louis County Health Department. The City and County are working together, but protocols may vary.