PUSD says it can now accept negative rapid antigen test results

In a Friday email to PUSD families, Superintendent Randy Booker announced that under new state and Alameda County guidance, K-12 schools may now accept a negative rapid antigen test to clear a symptomatic student to return to school under the following conditions:  

  • The student is otherwise ready to return to school, meaning that the student has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, with improving symptoms.  
  • The test was “monitored,” meaning that it was performed at a medical office, lab, or licensed testing facility.  Home antigen tests are not acceptable for this purpose.

The new testing option should enable students to return to class sooner than under the PCR test only policy earlier this year.

From the email:

“Until now, schools could accept a negative PCR test — but not a negative rapid antigen test — to clear symptomatic students to return to school before the end of the 10-day isolation period. PCR tests typically take 24-72 hours to process and report results.  

Rapid antigen tests are typically processed in 15-30 minutes, so this change in policy has the potential to reduce unnecessary absences and speed the return of students to school. 

The new guidance includes an important caveat: Any negative antigen test should be confirmed with a molecular/PCR test when symptoms include the loss of taste or smell, or when a healthcare professional (including a District nurse) suspects COVID-19.  

Families should continue to complete the daily health screener and report symptoms, and contact the site health clerk to provide PCR or rapid antigen test results. The health clerk or district nurses will determine whether the student is cleared to return to school. Subject to the availability of both health staff and test kit supplies, health clerks may be able to offer on-site rapid antigen testing by appointment only.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your site health clerk or the district nurses if you have any questions.”

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