Project Test the Nest
In-School COVID-19 Pooled Testing Pilot
State recommends biweekly COVID testing
On Feb. 17, 2021, Gov. Walz announced updates to the state's Safe Learning Plan, which included allowing secondary schools to begin operating in hybrid or in-person learning models provided they can implement additional mitigation strategies. Among the additional strategies, the plan states: "School leaders are directed to strongly recommend to their students and families that are learning in-person or in a hybrid learning model to receive a COVID-19 test every two weeks." By providing convenient in-school COVID testing opportunities for students, EPS hopes to keep students in schools and COVID-19 out.
What is Project Test the Nest?
Test the Nest is surveillance testing designed to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID. The project has evolved over months of work by an ad hoc committee that includes School Board members, district leaders, MDH representation and community members with medical expertise. In November, they began looking for a medical partner to work with the district. At the same time, UnitedHealth Group (UHG) was also seeking a research partner. COVID screening in schools is new and we are all interested in learning how it can effectively work to keep schools open. This unique public/private partnership combines the district’s commitment to mitigation strategies that help maintain levels of in-person learning, and UHG’s interest in demonstrating that proactive, asymptomatic testing efforts for schools is an important part of an effective mitigation plan. The launch of Test the Nest aligns with the state's recent recommendation for regular COVID testing of students.
**Note: Participation in Project Test the Nest student COVID testing is entirely optional and students and their parents must give signed consent.
How will Project Test the Nest Work?
Who: Project Test the Nest is for EPS students in grades 6-12 who are attending in the hybrid/in-person learning model. Students with any symptoms of COVID-19 should not come to school or participate in pooled testing!
Pooled Testing: The project will follow the UHG pooled testing surveillance approach, a protocol that allows for cost efficient COVID testing of many students, with quick, same-day turnaround of results. This means that individual swab tests will be processed in groups of 10-15. The district will have lists of the students who are in each pool identified by student ID number only. The de-identified pooled tests will be delivered to a nearby CLIA-certified UHG lab for immediate processing with a goal of returning results before the end of the school day. The expectation is the large majority of the pools will be negative.
A Positive Pool: UHG will contact the district Health Services office if a pool returns a positive test. District Health Services will be able to identify the students in that pool through their student ID number and would contact all families with students in that pool. Each student in the pool would need to immediately go to the designated health services location at their schools for a follow-up diagnostic swab test to determine who within the pool of 10-15 students is positive for COVID. School Health Services staff would collect the swab sample for the diagnostic test, along with student demographic data as required by the Minnesota Department of Health, which would again be sent to UHG. An additional blind swab collection would be taken for UHG research. Results from the diagnostic test would be available quickly, either that evening or the next morning. (Families may choose to have a diagnostic test done elsewhere, however testing sites often take longer to report results. Visit MDH COVID-19 Testing.)
All students in a pool that returns a positive result would need to immediately leave school and quarantine until they receive a negative diagnostic test. If a student’s diagnostic test returns positive for COVID, a UHG nurse will notify the family and the district. The district will follow contact tracing protocol and notify close contacts of the need to quarantine.
Where: There will be designated testing areas for each secondary school. Students will stop at the testing stations on their way into school, check-in, conduct the brief nasal swab test under the supervision of trained volunteers, and be on their way to class. Participating students will receive more detailed information on location once registered.
When: Students will have the opportunity to participate in Test the Nest once a week at their school site in the morning before school starts. Designated testing days will be held on Tuesdays for Edina High School student participants, and Thursdays for Valley View and South View Middle School participants (see Schedule at right). Consent forms for student participation are now open in Infinite Campus on the Parent Portal. Parents and students only need to complete consent forms one time in order to be registered for the duration of the program. Test the Nest runs through the end of the 2020-21 school year.
**Parent and Student Consent Required: Students may participate in COVID testing only if a parent and student signs a consent form. The form grants permission for a student to participate in COVID testing at school and for UHG to share information regarding a positive test with the district’s Health Services staff. To find the consent form login to the Parent Portal and click on Infinite Campus; look for the COVID-19 Testing Consent Form under Documents. Forms must be completed by 5 p.m. Monday for a student to participate in testing that week.
Help Test the Nest!
We are fortunate to have health experts among our parent community who generously shared their time and knowledge as members of the committee that worked to bring this plan to fruition. We are also grateful for the partnership with UHG and the opportunity to pilot student testing in this way. And in true Edina fashion, we were able to quickly find more than 30 parent volunteers who want to support this effort to create a safe and healthy environment for our students and employees. Now we are asking parents and students to join the effort to keep students in, and COVID out of, Edina schools!
We encourage families of secondary students to follow the state’s new guidance to participate in asymptomatic testing, either through convenient, at-school testing through Project Test the Nest, or visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 Testing page for information on how to test at home and locations of testing sites.
Test the Nest Schedule
*To participate in testing, students must have completed consent forms on file in the portal AND not have any symptoms of COVID-19. Complete forms by 5 p.m. Monday to be eligible to test that week.
Edina High School
Tuesdays, 7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Door 6 (Athletics entrance)
Door 15 (Bus rider entrance)
South View Middle School
Thursdays, 8:40 - 9:30 a.m.
Flex Space (near main stairway)
Valley View Middle School
Thursdays, 8:40 - 9:30 a.m.
Students may participate in Test the Nest only if parent and student consent forms are signed. Login to the Parent Portal and click on the Infinite Campus button. The consent form is located under Documents. Forms must be completed by 5 p.m. Monday for a student to participate in testing during that week. View Consent Form Tutorial.
Preview forms here. Sign forms on Infinite Campus portal.
Obtenga una vista previa de los formularios aquí. Firmar formularios en el portal Infinite Campus.
Foomamka aragtida halkan. Ku saxiix foomamka bogga Infinite Campus.