Pandemic Response

Vermont Conducts Routine COVID Testing of K12 Teachers and Staff

The state of Vermont has implemented a plan to increase "surveillance testing," which tests asymptomatic populations to find the virus in the community more quickly. To set a baseline, public health officials have begun routine testing of K-12 teachers and staff. All of the testing is voluntary, and those who undergo it won't need to quarantine. There are no plans to expand testing to students at this time.

Following the Thanksgiving break, there will be a regular rotating schedule, offering testing to teachers and staff in a quarter of Vermont schools each week, so every teacher and staff member will be offered testing once per month.

Local reporting said that state officials don't consider school employees "at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than other people." It's just that they view school personnel as reflective of their communities. The testing is a surveillance strategy to help identify cases--especially cases where people never develop symptoms--thereby helping to reduce the risk of clusters or outbreaks and supporting the state's efforts to continue and even expand in-person learning for students.

The process will use what the state referred to as the "more reliable PCR tests." These nasal swab tests detect the virus' genetic material, versus antigen tests, which detect specific proteins from the virus.

The state estimated that 25,000 people could be tested through the K-12 surveillance program. The tests will be made available to all public schools and some private schools, based on location and size of staff.

The testing will be done by CIC Health of Cambridge, MA.

With a population of 624,000, the state has issued a total of 480,000 tests among 202,000 people. Among the 3,104 cases that have occurred, just under 2 percent, 59 people, have died.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.