PROVIDENCE — Many kids are back to school in-person as the COVID-19 pandemic continues without a vaccine, so the RI Department of Health has established 14 COVID-19 test sites to track infections among students, teachers and staff.
“We have the infrastructure to run 5,000 tests a day for students, teachers, and staff, which will allow us to rapidly identify cases of COVID-19 and get people into quarantine and isolation right away. 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,” said Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).
Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 will get two tests, according to RIDOH. The results of the first test, a rapid test, will be available the same day. A second, more definitive test (a PCR test) will also be done. The results of this second test will be available within an average of 48 hours. A person who does not have symptoms but who is being tested because they were a close contact of someone with COVID-19 will only get the more definitive PCR test.
People will be able to schedule a test at one of 14 sites throughout Rhode Island. A full list of the testing sites is available here:
People can either make drive-up appointments or walk-up appointments. Appointments can be scheduled by parents, guardians, teachers, staff members, and students older than 16 years old. A parent or guardian must go to the test site with any child who is younger than 16. Instructions on how to get test results is available online in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
If a student, teacher, or staff member tests positive
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 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.
People who test positive will receive these instructions directly from RIDOH. A RIDOH staff member will also do an interview over the phone as part of a case investigation. This interview will include questions about the travel history and close contacts of the person who tested positive. The case investigation will involve close coordination between RIDOH 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.
- More information about testing for Pre-K – 12 students, teachers, and staff is available online: English | Spanish | Portuguese
- More information about reopening Rhode Island’s schools, district learning plans, and Pre-K-12 outbreak response protocols is available at back2schoolri.com.
- General information about testing (non Pre-K – 12) is available online.
- General information about COVID-19 is available online.
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