Students, teachers, and staff in Snohomish School District schools will be participating in a COVID-19 testing project with researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine to gain new insights into the transmission of the virus in schools and classrooms.
The project involving students in grades kindergarten through second grade begins this week, with nine elementary schools participating. The study is also available to staff in special education, in addition to those working with students between kindergarten through sixth grade. Staff who have been vaccinated are encouraged to participate; the study is expected to help researchers better understand transmission of vaccinated individuals.
For students, nasal swab kits will be provided on campus upon enrollment, parents/guardians can collect their children’s samples at home and place the sample in a drop box at school. The samples are then sent by the research team to a UW laboratory. Like students, teachers and staff are able to collect their testing samples at school or at home and drop them off in a secure drop box on campus. Participants can access their results within 2 to 3 days of sample collection in a secure online portal.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this testing partnership with the University of Washington,” said Kent Kultgen, Superintendent of the Snohomish School District. “This project allows our students and staff participating in in-person learning to be routinely tested for COVID-19. This project gives our students, staff and their families peace of mind, provides a quick and easy way for them to get results and continue with their learning in our classrooms and schools.”
In addition, this rapid personal testing model will enable the school district’s health partners to quickly contact trace those who have had contact with those who test positive, and to avoid seeing those contacts themselves spread COVID-19 to others.
“We are excited and fortunate to be a part of this study which will allow researchers to gain a better understanding of the prevalence and impact of COVID-19 transmission in classroom and school settings,” Kultgen said.
UW Medicine’s Dr. Helen Chu said the goal is to gain knowledge about how the virus may be transmitted in schools, especially by asymptomatic children. The study will be conducted between February and June, through regular symptom monitoring and weekly volunteer testing of children and school staff.
“I am confident that with the design of this study and the participants, we will learn a great deal about the transmission of the virus,” Chu said. “This information will be invaluable to policy makers and administrators of health and education systems on the state and local levels, as they make decisions on when and how students may return to in-classroom instruction.”
The study is being conducted by the Seattle Flu Study group, which includes faculty and staff from the Brotman Baty Institute; UW Medicine and the Department of Genome Sciences; Seattle Children’s Hospital; and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
To learn more and for additional information, please visit www.sno.wednet.edu/reopening/testingstudy.
To arrange an interview, please contact:
Kristin Foley, Communications Director, Snohomish School District
Dean R. Owen, Communications Director, Brotman Baty Institute