Landmark School has decided to offer COVID-19 testing as a pilot initiative for our community to help continue to prioritize health and safety on our campuses. Our Board of Trustees has worked closely with our Management and Emergency Response Teams to make this decision and has provided the board-designated funding to make it possible. We thank them for their leadership and generosity.
Below are some questions that we anticipate you will have regarding this testing initiative. Please read this entire page to understand the process and protocols.
When will COVID testing begin and end?
We expect to begin this testing initiative during the week of January 18, 2021. This testing will be conducted weekly, and we will evaluate its effectiveness on a weekly basis.
How often will testing occur?
Testing will occur weekly on the High School and Elementary•Middle School (EMS) campuses. Each cohort (A and B) at EMS will be tested every other week and members of the High School community will be tested every week. Testing data is most effective when collected regularly.
what is the Rationale for COVID Testing at Landmark School?
Landmark School is committed to minimizing the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 while maximizing in-person learning. In August, Landmark implemented the CDC recommendations of mandatory face coverings, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and physical distancing. Through the fall, we maintained small class sizes, implemented frequent disinfecting practices, utilized air purification systems and units, and promoted room and building ventilation. With low positivity rates of COVID-19 in the fall, we were able to maintain the health of our campuses using these mitigation strategies; however, with incidence rates rising and a surge in positive cases, an added layer of mitigation strategy is necessary for the upcoming weeks. This testing will help us proactively identify any cases that we have not been able to identify through other means.
Am I required to participate in the saliva testing?
Landmark’s initiative to provide COVID-19 testing is not mandatory—but is highly recommended. The more people within the Landmark community who opt into the testing, the more accurate information we will have about the overall population in order to help minimize the spread of the virus.
Is there anyone who should NOT be tested?
Yes. Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days cannot participate.
What kind of testing will be conducted?
Landmark contracted with Mirimus, a lab based in Brooklyn, N.Y., to conduct surveillance testing through a saliva-based PCR test. Landmark selected Mirimus after researching other companies, consulting peer schools, interviewing candidates, and conducting reference checks. This saliva-based pooled testing will monitor and detect COVID-19 in groups called pools.
Is there a certain time when my sample vial needs to be collected?
Yes, samples are best when they are fresh and sent to the lab quickly. Saliva vials must be submitted by 9:00 a.m. at EMS and 10 a.m. at the High School on collection days in order for the samples to be packed and shipped to the processing lab. If you forget your saliva vial on the day of collection, you will need to wait until the following week to submit a fresh vial.
Where do I pick-up my saliva kit and submit my sample vial?
|Weekly Testing||Saliva Kits Will Be Distributed||Saliva Kits Will Be Collected|
During afternoon dismissal.
At morning drop-off.
High School campus
During dismissal at Alexander, Drake lot, Ansara lot, Woodside driveway
At morning drop-off at Alexander, Drake lot, Ansara lot, and Dudley.
What should I do with the kit?
Before you fill the vial with saliva, you should not eat, drink, brush teeth, or smoke/vape for at least 30 minutes. In addition, you should wait 2 hours after using mouthwash before filling the vial with saliva. The sample of saliva can be taken anytime during the day when you have your kit but the most convenient time may be when you first wake-up in the morning.
Please collect your saliva sample following these steps or watch this video:
Vials should be placed in the plastic bag provided. Those submitting tests at the High School should write their name on the labels of the bags. EMS students will have their bags labeled for them.
Please note that due to an issue with the supplier, the collection straw provided in the testing kit may not be the one shown in the directions. If the wide end of the straw does not fit snugly into the sample tube, you may use the opposite end and insert the narrow end into the sample tube. The saliva collection straw is an OPTIONAL tool and is not necessary to collect your sample.
What is pooled testing?
Pooled testing consists of combining saliva samples from 24 individuals into one test called a “pool.” If a pool tests positive for COVID-19, then the 24 samples in that pool will be split into 12 groups of pairs to be retested. This second test of the samples will narrow down the positive case to a pair, and a third test will isolate the single positive saliva sample. Pool testing is a cost-effect way of identifying positive cases of COVID-19 within a community in order to minimize the spread of the virus.
How quickly will results be returned?
Results are available within 24–48 hours of receipt at the lab. Most pool results are returned within 24 hours and any positive pairs or diagnostic testing is returned within 48 hours.
What happens if a pool comes back positive for COVID-19?
Once the positive pair from the pool is determined, those two individuals will be contacted by the Landmark Health Center. Those individuals will have the choice of being PCR tested independently through their primary care doctor or Landmark’s school nurse will assist them in completing the necessary compliance paperwork for their original saliva sample to be tested by a third party lab. This final round of individual testing is called diagnostic testing. If an individual chooses to complete their diagnostic testing through Landmark, then final results from the Mirimus lab should arrive within six hours and no new samples will need to be collected. All three rounds of testing (the pool, the pair, and the diagnostic testing) are conducted from the one original saliva sample.
Do I need to quarantine if I am identified as part of a positive pair?
Yes. Any individual(s) identified as being within a positive pair and waiting for diagnostic results should remain at home until the results are returned. If you choose to use your original saliva sample through Mirimus to complete your diagnostic testing, then the results should be received within about six hours.
What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?
If the diagnostic testing indicates that you have tested positive, then the Health Center will guide you through the Department of Public Health (DPH) and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) guidelines. Anyone testing positive will need to stay home and isolate for the appropriate number of days. In addition, any individual who tests positive should not participate in pool testing for at least 90 days since viral DNA can remain in one’s system for an extended period of time. The health center will work with individuals and the DPH to conduct contact tracing.
If I travel out of state at any time, do I still need to get an independent PCR COVID-19 test outside of Landmark’s saliva testing program?
Yes. According to the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order, anyone traveling out of state must have a PCR test and quarantine until they receive a negative result. Landmark's pool testing cannot be used as a substitute for an independent PCR test because pool testing is a surveillance test designed to prevent spread, and it is not a diagnostic test.
*For the weeks of January 18 and February 15, which consist of Monday holidays, distribution will occur on Tuesdays and collection of vials will occur on Wednesdays during those weeks.
Do I still need to complete the questions on MyMedBot every day?
Yes. Performing pool surveillance testing is not the same as diagnostic testing and should not be a replacement for monitoring our daily symptoms or using other mitigation strategies.
Where does my saliva sample get sent for processing?
The samples will be sent to the Mirimus lab in Brooklyn, N.Y., to be processed and the lab will return the test results within 24–48 hours of the lab’s receipt of the samples. Test results will be returned to the Landmark health center.
Will the lab have any of my personal information?
Consistent with HIPPA privacy requirements, no personal information will be shared with the lab. All testing will be conducted using a barcode system. If you are identified within a positive pair and you choose to do the diagnostic testing through Landmark, then a third party lab will collect your personal information through a consent form that will be facilitated through the school nurse.
How will testing be paid for?
Landmark is offering this free testing to any current student, faculty, or staff member. Landmark will pay for the testing through board-designated funds—not through the operating budget.
Continue to check our COVID-19 Health and Safety protocols.
If you have any questions please reach out to our Health Centers.
Jessica Fauci, RN: Director of Health Services and Head Nurse, High School
Shari Gallant, RN: Elementary•Middle School Health Center