Safer, Smarter Schools FAQs
I'm a superintendent, principal or school board member. Where do I find information to enroll my school/school system?
Public and private schools and school systems can learn more about the program and how to enroll at our site that includes all relevant information. More information for school administrators can be found here.
I'm a parent. What do I need to do for my child to be in the testing program?
School based testing will never be conducted without consent from a parent or legal guardian (for minor students) or from the individual him or herself (for adults). Your child’s school will provide you with all needed registration information and consent forms at the beginning of the school year. More information for parents & students can be found here.
What type of test is being used for the school testing program?
The Louisiana Department of Health will provide PCR tests, also called molecular tests. The PCR tests detect genetic material of the virus using a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR tests can detect smaller amounts of virus than antigen tests and thus indicate a positive result sooner in the virus’s development. These tests will be administered either from a lower anterior nasal (just inside the nostril) swab or an oral swab.
Who will be tested?
Testing is available for your child(ren), their teachers, and on-campus staff. Testing is optional. The Louisiana Department of Health will never conduct any testing without consent from you. Your school will work directly with you to obtain consent within the first two weeks of the beginning of the school year or within two weeks of the school opting in to the testing program.
What is coronavirus or COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:
- Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
- Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
- Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, loss of smell or taste, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue muscle or body aches, light-headedness or dizziness, headache, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. This list does include all possible symptoms.
My child already had COVID-19. Should they still be tested?
The CDC recommends that those who tested positive for COVID-19 should not re-test routinely for 90 days after recovering from your symptoms. You may continue to test positive for three months or more without being contagious to others. For this reason, you should only be tested if you develop new symptoms of possible COVID-19 within 90 days of having COVID-19.
Individuals can become susceptible to reinfection approximately 90 days following the onset of infection. For this reason, students who are past the 90 days should be tested.
How is my child supposed to collect the sample themselves?
The Louisiana Department of Health will ensure trained professionals administer the tests in most circumstances. If your child should need to self-collect, they will be provided extremely detailed written and oral instruction on collection of specimen from the school based consultants. Testing can also be coordinated by contacting your child’s healthcare provider.
How long does it take to get results?
Test results will be received and reviewed within 24 hours of sample collection to ensure subsequent results and safety/precautionary measures are effective.
How often will testing occur?
Testing frequency will be determined by your school district and the needs of your school community.
Does my child need to quarantine while waiting for their testing results to come back? Does everyone in my house have to quarantine while my child is awaiting results from their individual test?
No. Your child or other family members do not need to quarantine or miss family, sports or school activities while waiting for the weekly test result to come back. If your child starts to feel sick and has COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, etc.), then they should stay home.
What will happen to my child if another student in his/her class tests positive?
The Louisiana Department of Health provides school isolation and quarantine recommendations that are constantly being updated as new information and recommendations are received. Based on these recommendations, and special circumstances depending on the positive tests results of your child’s class, school or individual results, further guidance will be provided accordingly.
If I test positive for COVID-19, can I go to school?
No. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 needs to stay home. Your school nurse will tell you when you can come back to school.
Will my classmates know if I test positive?
No, positive test results will only be disclosed to the Louisiana Department of Health and your school if you/your parent have completed the HIPAA and consent forms.
I am interested in COVID-19 testing, but I play sports and don’t want to miss my practices. Am I going to have to stay home while I wait for my test results to come back every week?
No. You do not need to miss sports or school while you wait for your weekly test result to come back. If you start to feel sick and have COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, etc.), then you should stay home.
What can I do to keep myself from getting COVID-19?
There are a few things you can do to help protect yourself from COVID-19, see the CDC guidelines, which include:
- Wear a mask when you are in public
- Stay 6 feet away from others
- Get vaccinated
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
- Wash your hands often
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily
Does a COVID-19 test hurt?
When COVID-19 testing began, it was believed that nasal swabs needed to be inserted 3-5 inches into the nose to reach the nasal cavity. This can be very uncomfortable. Fortunately, newer tests use a type of swab that is much shorter in length but just as effective. We will not be using the same test for children that is used for adults. We will be using a swab that goes in the nose and is twirled for 10 seconds. We like to tell children “It won’t hurt, but it may feel funny and tickle your nose!”
I am worried about doing the test myself. Is it easy to do?
We want the self-collections to be performed accurately, so we will provide you with all the tools necessary to collect the samples adequately. If there is a need to self-collect, trained healthcare providers and experts from across the nation have come up with very effective and easy to follow instructions that will be given to you either in written format or via video instructions before collection.