From January 11 – March break, Wheeler will conduct periodic, asymptomatic testing on its campuses using the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen rapid shallow nasal swab test as provided by the Rhode Island Department of Health. All students and employees at both the Providence and Farm campuses will have the opportunity for this free testing every 8-day school cycle as a commitment to the well-being of the entire Wheeler School community. Testing is an additional layer of risk mitigation, not a replacement for everything else you are already doing in staying healthy, following our Wheeler W’s, and avoiding unnecessary travel.
Above is the consent form which is also found in the parent/guardian Magnus health system portal. Only one consent form is required for the testing period through March break and NO students will be tested without a signed consent form returned either by uploading it to your secure Magnus Health account (look for the link when you log in to your Parent Portal Resource Board) or contact your child’s division assistant. Parents/Guardians will be called immediately if any student tests positive so that the student can leave campus with the parent/guardian.
We will add resources and videos to this page as testing proceeds so bookmark it!
Dates for testing by grade (beginning January 21, 2021)
- January 21: 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th, and 8th in Providence and 6th at the Farm
- January 25: Hamilton LS, Wheeler 3rd, 4th, and all Upper Schoolers on campus
- *Early Childhood and Athlete testing schedules are being coordinated. Nurse Kathy McKenna will contact EC parents about testing for those children and the Athletics Department has begun testing athletes.
- Future testing dates include February 3 and 4, February 17 and 18, and March 1 and 2. These dates have been added to the master calendar.
What is rapid testing going to be like?
Wheeler’s Molecular Biology Class videos
Thank you to our Upper School students in our Molecular Biology class who took on the task to create this series of 4 videos to educate on the science and public health purposes of asymptomatic testing.
Frequently-Asked Questions about Wheeler’s surveillance testing plan
What is the BinaxNOW test?
The test is a shallow nasal swab that students Grs. 6-12 will be able to self-administer. The rapid test goes 3/4 of an inch into the nose. Here is a that answers many common questions about this rapid test. Once the swab is complete, it is placed in a card which is then sealed and the activating agent determines whether COVID-19 is present. A double line shows in a window if it is positive after 15 minutes and before 30 minutes. There is no machinery needed other than the test card, the agent, and the swab. Results can be read simply by a layperson.
When will my student be tested, where and how often?
Please see the testing dates above. If your child has a consent form on file and is in school, they will be tested on that day. Groups are created out of classes or groups (ie. Mrs. Gustafson’s 2nd-grade class will test together; 9th grade will test together). Small groups will be created to avoid lines and clustering. We expect to move each person through the process within a few minutes.
Who is administering the test? Will students swab themselves?
Students in Lower School will be swabbed by an adult. Students in 6th – 12th and faculty and staff will self-swab according to directions given by a tester. The Health Center staff, members of the Leadership Team, other volunteers in the parent community with healthcare backgrounds have been trained to serve as testers. All volunteers will be tested before they begin testing.
Can parents come to be with their children during the test?
For early childhood, Nurse Kathy McKenna will reach out to parents about testing for these early childhood students. For anyone in 1st grade and above, we will have videos and reassuring adults to assist if children are nervous. We will not require that a very nervous child be tested. For parents with specific questions about their child, please contact our nurses in the Health Center. If you would prefer to be with your child at testing, you can submit negative test results from OFF-campus during each testing cycle. We are expecting 100% participation in testing for Wheeler students. If you do not wish for your child to participate in the RIDOH testing program at Wheeler, you should take advantage of public and private testing options RI or MA and submit tests to the school by the second date of the testing window (1/25, 2/4, 2/18, and 3/2).
Is it safe for students to take their masks off and swab? Won’t that spread it?
The time without a mask is very short. We expect that students and adults alike will be in the testing area for approximately 3 minutes.
How will we ensure the swab is deep enough?
Those who will be observing the swabs have been trained to monitor the self-swab process or to administer it. The graphic on this page explains the swab goes in ¾ of an inch into the nostril.
What are the safety precautions available?
All individuals in the testing site will be wearing full PPE, including KN95 masks, face shields, gloves, and gowns. Gloves will be changed between each swab (if for younger children).
If my child is absent on the day of testing, can they make it up later?
Only those designated testing days are possible for testing at school due to the personnel and space required to set up times. You may take your child for an asymptomatic test at one of the public testing centers on that day if they are absent or at another time that week and send us the results.
Can this be used if I have symptoms in the morning?
No. If there are symptoms in the morning or at any time during school, you will be called to pick up your child and sent to have the symptomatic test. This program does not replace symptomatic testing. However, there may be times we may use the tests in conjunction with special situations.
Where can I learn more about this test?
How quickly will I be notified if my student is positive?
You will be called within the hour of the test to come to pick up your child from school. Anyone who tests positive will stay in our Health Center isolation room until you arrive at school. If you are asked to quarantine, here and below are two pieces of
Do those who have had COVID and recovered need to test?
Those who have had a positive test within 90 days do not need to retest.
Where can I find the consent form?
Two places. Above at the top of this page and when you log in to your parent portal and on your Resource Board you will see the Magnus Portal. Upload your completed form to the Magnus Portal.
What can I do to help my child who is anxious about testing?
Our Upper School students in Molecular Biology and in the Mental Health Awareness Club are making videos and signage to destigmatize COVID and help students understand the test. We’ll post and share this helpful information soon.
For now, here is a helpful article from Peggy O’Neil with tips: https://theconversation.com/6-tips-to-prepare-your-child-for-easy-covid-19-testing-147415