Rapid COVID-19 Test Available for Local Students

posted on Friday, October 23, 2020 in COVID-19

The State of Iowa has recently made rapid antigen testing for the SARS-CoV2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, available for preschool through 12th grade students attending public or private schools in Clay County.

Local schools, Clay County Public Health, Spencer Hospital, and Avera Medical Group Spencer have worked together to develop a process to make this testing easily accessible and free for students.

“This test is available for only for students who show signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and are seven days or less from the start of their symptoms,” explained Cammy Hinkeldey, Spencer Community Schools nurse. The test is not recommended for students who may have been exposed to the virus but do not have symptoms. Signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • New cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting or diarrhea

If a student exhibits any of these symptoms, testing may be accessed in one of the following ways:

  • Reporting the child’s illness to their school. Once reported, a school nurse or school appointed health official will perform an assessment over the phone and may direct the student for a free test at Spencer Hospital. If the student becomes ill while attending school, he or she may be directed to Spencer Hospital for free testing or advised to contact the family’s health provider.
  • Visiting your local healthcare provider. Local healthcare providers may collect a sample at their office for testing or place an order for the student to be tested at Spencer Hospital. The antigen testing for school-age children is free; however, office visit charges will still apply.

For this particular COVID-19 test, a nasal swab is used to collect samples from both nostrils. This test does not require the deep insertion of the swab that other testing methods use.

“This specific test is quick and painless,” commented Jordan Reed, Spencer Hospital laboratory director.  “The samples can be processed quickly and test results will be available the same day and will be reported to the entity who referred the student for testing, either the school or healthcare provider, who will notify the family of the results,” Reed added.

When the provider’s office or school personnel contact the student’s family with results, additional guidance will be provided regarding care and returning to school.

Testing is voluntary.  Questions related to COVID-19 testing for students should be directed to your healthcare provider or the student’s school. A child’s ability to attend school is based on individual school illness policies and the guidance of healthcare professionals.