PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Students, faculty and staff members from both private and public schools in Rhode Island can now get tested for COVID-19 through the state’s new school testing program.
The testing program is separate from the testing system for the rest of the state. More than a dozen COVID-19 testing sites across the state opened Monday morning.
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Anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or has been directed to get tested can schedule an appointment by calling (844) 857-1814. Appointments can be made for any day of the week between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.
“Consistent with the strategic, aggressive approach we have taken to COVID-19 testing over the last several months, Rhode Island has developed one of the broadest, most comprehensive school testing programs in the country,” Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said.
Right now, Rhode Island has the ability to run 5,000 tests a day for students, teachers and staff, which will allow the state to quickly identify positive cases and their close contacts.
“This will be key to minimizing disruptions to school communities and making this academic year a success for all students and schools throughout Rhode Island,” Alexander-Scott said.
Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said getting students back to school sends a “powerful message” about how important education is to Rhode Island.
“The work our colleagues have done to organize and implement school-focused COVID testing is a powerful tool in our efforts to return students safely to their classrooms,” Infante-Green said. “Efforts like this allow educators to do what they do best — teach our students.”
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Symptomatic patients will receive two tests: a rapid test and a PCR test. Results from the rapid test will be available that day, while results from the PCR test will be available within 48 hours.
Those getting tested because they were in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and don’t have symptoms will only need to receive the PCR test.
If a student, teacher or staff member tests POSITIVE:
- They will not be allowed to return to school and will need to isolate for at least 10 days after the first day they developed symptoms.
- That person can return to school after 10 days if they have been fever-free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine and if their symptoms have improved.
- If someone tests positive but does not have symptoms of COVID-19, they must isolate for 10 days after receiving their PCR test result.
The Department of Health will contact those who test positive and will ask questions regarding travel history and close contacts. The investigation will involve a close coordination between both health and school officials.
If a student, teacher or staff member tests NEGATIVE:
- Anyone who gets tested for COVID-19 should expect to be out of school or work for a period of time, even if their result is negative.
- If someone tests negative but was a close contact of a positive case, the person who tested negative still needs to complete their 14-day quarantine period.
- If the person who tested negative was not a close contact (for example, someone who was tested only because they had COVID-19 like symptoms) they can go back to school after symptoms have improved and they have been fever-free for 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medication.