Garrett County Public Schools (GCPS) is participating in the Maryland K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program to provide free COVID-19 tests as an additional resource for students and staff. The COVID-19 Testing Task Force, Maryland Department of Health (MDH), and Maryland Department of Education (MDE) have developed this program to provide free COVID -19 tests for school systems. The Garrett County School nurses have been helping the Garrett County Health Department (GCHD) with COVID-19 testing and have collected hundreds of specimens. They are well trained in COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and contact tracing. Dr. Jennifer Corder, MD, Deputy Health Officer at GCHD, is serving as program physician. The state has provided rapid antigen point-of-care (POC) tests and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) specimen collection tests to be sent to MAKO labs. This is a voluntary program. Here is how it works:
- If your child shows symptoms of COVID-like illness (CLI) at school or is discovered to have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual, the parent/guardian will be called to pick up the student.
- The nurse can provide information about test sites elsewhere if you choose not to have your child tested at school. If you would like the school nurse to provide testing, let her know.
- Call the school when you arrive, and the nurse will bring your child to the car for dismissal.
- The nurse will have you sign a consent for testing. The consent must be signed by the child’s parent or legal guardian. Grandparents, friends, or other family members cannot sign the consent for testing unless there is paperwork on file at school stating they are the child’s guardian and able to sign for medical treatment and procedures.
- The POC rapid test takes 15 minutes for results. The nurse will swab the inside of both nostrils. If it is positive for COVID, no other testing is required. If your child is negative but has symptoms, a follow-up test can be provided that is sent to MAKO laboratories. This will require the nose to be swabbed twice; this is an intranasal swab inserted about an inch into both nostrils.
DO NOT SEND YOUR ILL CHILD TO SCHOOL TO GET A TEST!
Keep your ill child home and call your child’s school nurse if you would like them tested. The nurse will work with you to make an appointment time for you to drive up to the school, and she will come out and test your child. Free testing supplies are provided for use on students and staff. We are working with the GCHD to expand testing so that we could test parents/ guardians when you bring your child, and this should be available soon. Testing is also provided at the Garrett County Health Department in Oakland and the MEDCO building next to the Garrett County Airport on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
This program works the same for GCPS staff. Contact your school’s nurse for more information.