The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is partnering with the County of San Diego to conduct COVID-19 surveillance testing of the region's 80,000-plus employees.
"Testing so many school employees for COVID-19 is no small feat," said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. "We are thankful for the support of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, which has allocated $5 million in CARES Act funding to support testing, tracing, and treatment of school employees so that we can reopen school campuses in a prudent way."
Surveillance testing, also known as routine testing, involves testing people on a regular basis to identify individuals who may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.
The purpose of surveillance tests is to monitor the current state of the epidemic. It is used to monitor things like whether the COVID-19 virus is moving into new areas, whether it is affecting some groups of people more than other groups of people, or whether the number of cases is going up or going down.
Four sites have been established specifically to serve school employees:
Metro Region School Personnel Testing Site
Harold J. Ballard Parent Center (2375 Congress St., San Diego, CA 92110)
Starting on Oct. 1, will operate Tuesday-Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
East County School Personnel Testing Site
Mollison Complex (301 N. Mollison Ave., El Cajon, CA 92021)
Starting on Oct. 5, will operate Monday-Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
North County School Personnel Testing Site
Del Mar Fairgrounds (2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA 92014)
Use the Fire Entrance at the Fairgrounds
Starting on Oct. 2, will operate Monday-Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
South County School Personnel Testing Site
650 L St., Chula Vista, CA 91911
Starting on Oct. 1, will operate Monday-Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Rural/Backcountry Testing Sites
School employees in rural areas will be tested at rotating sites in the backcountry, in partnership with CAL FIRE.
Other Testing Sites
Frequently Asked Questions about School Employee COVID-19 Testing
Who should be tested and how often?
School staff members are essential workers, and staff includes teachers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, janitors, bus drivers, or any other school employee that may have contact with students or other staff. According to the California Department of Public Health, school districts and schools shall test staff periodically, as testing capacity permits and as practicable, with the recommendation being to test all staff over two months, where 25% of staff are tested every two weeks, or 50% every month to rotate testing of all staff over time.
What test is used? How is it done?
The county is using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test developed by Helix Diagnostics, which looks for pieces of the virus that cause COVID-19. Tests are conducted by a nasal swab and may be self-collected by the individual who is observed by a public health nurse, or may be collected by public health staff if the individual chooses.
How long does the process take?
Collecting the samples that will be tested is very quick. Most people will be able to provide the registration information and complete testing within 10 minutes, however that time may vary based on how busy the site is.
What is the cost?
The test is done at no charge to school employees.
How will employees prove they’ve been tested?
School employees will be provided with a receipt to acknowledge the date on which they were tested.
Who gets my results?
Test results will be reported to each school employee. The results will not be reported to the employer.
Results are issued by email if the result is negative and by both email and phone call from a public health nurse if the result is positive.