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Canyons Launches Student, Employee Coronavirus Testing

It’s free, it’s fast, and it promises to be a valuable addition to the tools Canyons District schools have at their disposal to help stop the community-spread of COVID-19. 

In line with new state requirements, Canyons District’s high schools on Monday, Nov. 30 began administering rapid COVID-19 testing to all students and employees involved in Utah High School Activities Association-sanctioned activities, including sports and performing art programs. The testing is free and will be administered by specially trained staff every 14 days as a prerequisite for participation in practices, rehearsals, competitions and performances. 

“Students and staff members may elect to not be tested. But doing so would preclude the person from participating in athletic or extracurricular activities by order of the Utah Department of Health,” says CSD’s Responsive Services Director BJ Weller.  “Through testing, in combination with continued contact-tracing, quarantines and the isolation of positive cases, the state hopes to minimize the risk of extracurricular activities and enable students to continue to enjoy them safely.”

Additionally, Canyons District is providing optional COVID testing as a courtesy to all teachers and staff. The District began administering rapid testing free of charge to employees on Monday via a drive-thru testing center located in the garage beneath the Canyons District Office, 9361 S. 300 East in Sandy. To sign up for CSD’s drive-thru testing, employees must complete the online form found at this link and line up inside their vehicle outside the north entrance of the District Office parking garage at any of the following times and days:

  • Monday, 6:30 – 8:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, 3 – 5 p.m.
  • Friday, 8 – 10 a.m.

(days and times updated as of March 5, 2021)

The drive-thru testing is for employees and their minor children only. Students who are not experiencing symptoms but hoping to return to school following seven days of quarantine can register for free “rapid-return” testing through this health department website.

Public PCR testing is available at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays, 3200 S. Decker Lake Dr. in West Valley City. Registration link: https://slco.org/health/COVID-19/testing/public-testing/

All tests administered by the District are the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test, a minimally invasive swab test taken from inside the edge of the nose. It is among the most accurate of available rapid tests with a sensitivity of 97.1 percent and a specificity of 98.5 percent, which means false positives are unlikely. 

Results are interpreted visually within 15 minutes and reported to employees and parents and guardians through a secure Utah Department of Health portal. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be directed to isolate per the instructions they receive from health authorities. 

The testing is being paid for with a portion of Utah’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. It will be overseen and administered by school and District staff who have undergone special training and received all the necessary personal protective equipment, including surgical gloves, gowns, N95/KN95 masks and face shields, biohazard waste disposal bags and sanitizing wipes and dispensers. 

Parents with questions are encouraged to contact the Main Office of their child’s school, and employees are encouraged to address any questions with their supervisor.

Canyons District staff and administrators receive training in administering rapid COVID-19 tests.

COVID-19 Testing Frequently Asked Questions

Click or tap on the questions below to expand the answer.

Yes. Students and employees must consent to testing, but it is a requirement for participation in extracurricular activities. By order of the Utah Department of Health, beginning Nov. 30, 2020, each participant in a high school extracurricular activity, including a practice or competition, must receive a diagnostic test approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to determine current COVID-19 infection at least once every 14 days. Additionally, immediately prior to participating in the athletic or extracurricular activity, each participant must confirm that the participant has completed any quarantine or isolation period required and is not experiencing any symptom of COVID-19.

Extracurricular activities are often inherently higher risk activities for the spread of COVID-19. By requiring testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic participants, and then isolating participants who test positive, the likelihood of spread decreases. Additionally, regular scheduled testing may promote risk-reduction behavior, including mask wearing and physical distancing, which should also decrease transmission. Decreasing COVID-19 spread in this age group may also help protect other more vulnerable age groups. Goals of this testing include: 1) Decrease transmission; 2) enable students and staff to participate in high school safely; and 3) enable students and staff to participate in high school extracurricular activities safely.

Utah’s Public Health Order requires testing for those who participate in athletic or extracurricular activities. However, Canyons District is offering optional testing to teachers and staff. Students may obtain optional testing at sites through coronavirus.utah.gov.

An extracurricular activity means a high school activity, course, or program that is not directly related to delivering instruction. Examples of extracurricular activities include the following, (even if the activity is also part of a class): basketball, wrestling, drill team, swimming, cheer, theater, pep band, and clubs. Extracurricular activities do not include a co-curricular activity that is a one-time performance or demonstration of skills acquired as part of a class provided during the regular school day (e.g., an afterschool annual choir concert, end-of-course dance recital, or science fair). An elementary, middle, or high school that sponsors an activity, course, or program not included in the definition of extracurricular activities above shall comply with the event host restrictions in the health order.

Schools will be administering the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test. To perform the test, a nasal swab specimen is collected using a cotton swab, taking a sample from both sides of the nose. The test is minimally invasive. Test results are interpreted visually at 15 minutes.

Testing at each school will be overseen by the school’s designated COVID-19 point of contact and administered by trained school and district staff.

Utah has allocated a portion of its federal CARES funding to support this testing program. 

The following PPE and supply items are needed for testing and will be provided by Utah state government, as needed:

  • Examination gloves 
  • Surgical or N95/KN95 masks 
  • Surgical gowns 
  • Face shields
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sanitizing wipes or spray
  • Biohazard waste disposal bags

Testing associated with extracurricular activities will be performed at Canyons District’s high schools according to schedules determined by each school. Optional testing for CSD employees will be conducted at the District Office.

When any participant tests positive, the protocols outlined in CSD’s COVID-19 School Manual will be followed.

BinaxNOW tests are not as specific or sensitive as PCR tests. Nonetheless, BinaxNOW tests can identify those who are infected and can encourage risk-reduction behaviors. Individuals who wish to receive a follow-up PCR test should do so within 48 hours of the BinaxNOW test. Follow-up PCR testing is recommended for unexpected BinaxNOW results.

COVID-19 test results (both positive and negative) are reported to the Utah Department of Health through the state’s RedCap registration system.

A student or staff member may elect to not be tested. However, this choice would preclude the individual from participating in athletic or extracurricular activities sponsored by the high school at this time.

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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