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Bavarian International School – COVID-19 Onsite Testing – Pilot Project


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Kevin Lloyd

image.png.96f8af0476cadb21147740f20c2f9c24.pngThe Bavarian International School located north of Munich, Germany recently conducted a pilot project together with Augsburg laboratory Synlab ran a pilot project to conduct on site testing.

Background 
At BIS, students are less concerned than staff about transmission, among parents, the concern is mixed. Anxiety among staff is high, and as such BIS has set out to address COVID-19 at their school with the following objectives:

  • find ways to be sure students and staff are safe
  • reassure parents 
  • reduce anxiety among staff

At the beginning of the 2020/21 School Year, BIS required all staff and students to provide a negative PCR test when returning to campus.

The Project

Together with an external company BIS ran a month-long project that involved a “Gargle test (Saliva)” which was easy for the students and for the staff to administer.  The project addressed 10 classes (school is 1150 students in total), with one class from each of the grades from 3 through 12.

In Grades 5 and 12, they tested everyone in the grade and they also conducted a pool test. A pool test combines the saliva to allow for a single test to be done on a group. If the pool test returns positive, then the participants in that pool must be individually tested. This creates significant efficiencies and cost savings. 

In the other grades 4 students from each class were sampled. 

Solution included an App with a QR code to be informed of the results. Pool test results were delivered first to the school, individual results to the parents.

The Result

Of 60 pool tests run over a 3-week period, 1 came back positive – the class was called back in the next morning (Friday) for individual testing to identify who was positive. They were again tested on Monday and the following Wednesday a nasal test was conducted.  It ended up that only 1 child, who was asymptomatic was infected.

The students in this positive pool were also then isolated from the rest of the school and each other until the individual was identified and the others were cleared with negative tests.

During the same time, another child outside of the study group became ill and external testing of that child and his family took almost 1 week to get test results.  In that time 3 other children tested positive that were in the same cohort.

Learnings

-    Pool testing appears to be more efficient and effective in containing any wider spread.
-    Kids actually enjoyed the project and wanted to be part of this.

What is next

BIS is now working on having pool testing 1x / week for all students. This is to be signed off by the ethics committee even though it is not considered a clinical study and individuals cannot be identified. -    They do also keep rapid tests on site for more urgent assessments. BIS is uncertain is they will need to maintain this long term with the Vaccine on the horizon.

The International School Recovery Forum for COVID-19 would like to thank Dr Chrissie Sorenson for sharing the results of this important study.
 

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