University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Feasibility and Functionality of SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Testing in K-12 School Health Offices

Jonathan L. Temte, MD, PhD; Shari Barlow, BA; Emily Temte, BA; Maureen D. Goss, MPH; Cristalyne Bell, BA; Derek Norton, MS; Guanhua Chen, PhD

WMJ. 2023;122(5):422-427

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Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented opportunities to introduce rapid SARS-CoV-2 antigen testing (RSAT) into kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) school settings. We evaluated the feasibility and functionality of Sofia Fluorescent Immunoassay Flu + SARS in 1 school district across the 2021-2022 academic year.

Methods: Seven schools in the Oregon School District (Oregon, Wisconsin) were supplied with RSAT analyzers and test kits, along with minimal training of health office staff. We assessed RSAT utilization among schools, rate of invalid results, and comparability to 952 190 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction tests performed countywide during the same time period. A feedback survey was distributed to all 13 health office staff to assess respondents’ perceptions regarding the feasibility and acceptability of RSAT in the Oregon School District.

Results: Over the school year, 1226 RSATs were performed; SARS-CoV-2 was detected in 103 specimens. Percent positivity was similar to the county level (8.4 vs 9.2%; chi-square = 0.74; P = 0.39). Cross-correlation of weekly positive tests between the Oregon School District and Dane County was maximal with no lag (rs = 0.69; P < 0.001). Health office staff indicated Sofia2 RSAT was easy to perform, and 92.3% reported interest in continuing to utilize RSAT in the upcoming school year.

Conclusions: Implementing a RSAT protocol is feasible and acceptable for monitoring SARS-CoV-2 cases in K-12 school settings. High rates of compliance and confidence in results demonstrate program effectiveness. Continuing to use RSAT in school settings after the urgency of the pandemic subsides could help address future outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses within schools and in the larger community.

Author Affiliations: Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin (Temte J, Barlow, Temte E, Goss, Bell); Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis (Norton, Chen).
Corresponding Author: Maureen Goss, MPH, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 1100 Delaplaine Ct, Madison, WI 53715; phone 608.301.7730; email; ORCID ID 0000-0002-7062-1916
Acknowledgements: The authors thank the Oregon School District in Oregon, Wisconsin, for ongoing support and cooperation with studies and assessments, and specifically Superintendent Dr. Leslie Bergstrom and the wonderful school nurses and health office personnel. John Tamerius, Sush Reddy, and Quidel Corporation generously supplied Sofia2 analyzers and Flu + SARS tests to the Oregon School District.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
Funding/Support: Quidel Corporation supplied Sofia2 rapid testing analyzers and dual Influenza/SARS-CoV-2 test kits for all school locations. No funding was secured for this study.
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