January 12, 2021
Our COVID-19 task force spent the last week working through different iterations of plans for asymptomatic testing on campus. We appreciate your patience. We believe that community testing brings the best chance of being Lincoln remaining open for in-person learning for as many days as possible. We invite you to participate in our on campus testing program which is being made possible through the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). Lincoln has been supplied with the BinaxNOW tests (see this pdf for information about this test).
As we have communicated previously, testing will be one more facet in our efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and to keep our community safe, and we are happy to be able to provide this service to our students. Testing is not mandatory, but is highly encouraged. We will, of course, continue our diligent efforts to practice mask-wearing, social distancing, cleaning protocols, and hand hygiene.
Our experience this fall, statewide COVID-19 rates, and the data we collected through the testing in the last week inform our plan. We learned of 1 positive case in Early Childhood, 1 in Lower School, 1 in Middle School, and 5 in Upper School, as well as 2 members of our faculty and staff. It is important to note that none of the students or the faculty member had been on campus since before Winter Break. We also have talked a lot about how to minimize disruption to the learning that happens at school. Students have already adapted in impressive and incredible ways to the new safety measures of this year, and we want to make this next step as easy as possible.
How It Works
The first step in the testing process is for parents to complete a consent form found HERE. In order to achieve useful data, RIDOH and RIDE suggest that we test at least 20% of any cohort; our goal is to test about 50% of each cohort periodically. We hope that families will opt in for testing so that we can continue to monitor the presence of the coronavirus in our community. Faculty and staff will also be participating in on-site testing. I encourage you to read more about antigen testing and its role in combating the spread of coronavirus in this blog post.
Middle and Upper School Testing
We will start testing Middle and Upper School students on Wednesday, January 20 during community time (see schedule below). Our goal is to test 50% of this age group each week. Students in this age group are able to swab themselves; they will do so after receiving instruction and will be supervised by a cohort of trained school leaders, including Kara Gilligan, Peter Brooks, and Debbie Hanney. A nurse will also be present throughout. We will conduct the testing in the Ebner, Elson, Hart Music Center, where we can space students safely as they wait to be tested and then wait for results. The swabbing itself takes about a minute, and results are available after 15 minutes. Any student who tests positive will be isolated and a parent will be contacted for immediate pickup. We will be as discreet as possible in order to protect student privacy. We will communicate with close contacts as appropriate, but we will not call families about a negative result. We are required to enter the results into the RIDOH testing portal.
Lower School Testing
We will offer two testing events on non-school days for Lower School students, on Sunday, January 24 and Monday, February 15 (President’s Day). We know that rates are lower among younger children. We made the decision to move the testing to the weekend to minimize the impact for our youngest children and working families on a school day. This testing will be conducted in the Boss-McLoughlin Gymnasium and the swabbing will be performed by our nursing staff. Parents will bring students to the door of the gym, where a familiar face will greet the student, walk them into the gym, and walk the student back to their parent’s car after the testing. We will ask parents to sign up for time slots when we get closer to the date. We encourage Lower School families for whom these dates or logistics do not work, to sign up for testing through the state.
Early Childhood and Little School
Due to logistics we are not able to offer testing at school for EC and Little School children. We encourage families to sign up for testing through the state. EC and Little School faculty and staff will participate in on-campus testing.
Parent Information Sessions
We will hold two parent information sessions to answer any questions about the testing plan. These will take place on Friday, January 15 from 8:30-9:00 a.m. for Middle and Upper School parents and Wednesday, January 20 from 8:30-9:00 a.m. for Lower School students. Zoom links can be found HERE.
We intend to follow this plan until March Break, and then will assess what we have learned and where things are with the virus in the broader community. We will ask all faculty, staff, and students to get tested through RIDOH state testing before returning to campus after March Break (testing should take place between March 26–28).
As we embark on asymptomatic testing at Lincoln, we are aiming for 100% participation, and a great first step is to complete the consent form. We hope you will partner with us in this next phase of our ongoing and evolving response to COVID-19. As always, thank you for your partnership in our efforts to keep our community healthy!
Sophie Glenn Lau ’88