The PTA board is strongly recommending all our BE students opt-in by filling out this online form for the surveillance COVID-19 testing program that is anticipated to start the week of September 13th. Please sign the form by this Wednesday, September 8th.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 surveillance testing is part of the prevention strategy that is most important for safer in-person learning. This is a measure that we have available at Bethesda Elementary to decrease COVID-19 transmission and reduce loss of in-person education this year.
Surveillance testing is critical as we start the school year in the highest category of community transmission coupled with an unvaccinated student population at our school. Recent simulation modeling demonstrates that adding COVID-19 screening tests to universal masking can further drive down case rates (Zhang et al preprint). Our students at BE are unvaccinated, and it takes our entire community to work together to keep our students safer in school. Please opt-in your student so that we can reduce transmission and minimize quarantine-related loss of in-person education.
COVID-19 Surveillance Test Consent Form: https://www.cognitoforms.com/CIANDiagnostics1/MCPSMarylandDepartmentOfHealthCIANDiagnosticsIndividualCOVID19TestingConsentOptInForm)
COVID-19 Testing Advocacy
The Montgomery County Council PTA (MCCPTA) recently held a meeting to discuss parent concerns around the MCPS COVID-19 testing plans. Around 200 MCPS parents attended along with several of our elected officials. Although MCPS is providing surveillance testing, there is significant worry about the robustness of the surveillance program. Further, there is concern that there is no access to timely symptomatic testing in-schools, especially in the light of the newly revised quarantine guidance that affects MCPS elementary students.
What can we do as MCPS parents?
- As parents, we can advocate for a stronger surveillance testing program to decrease COVID-19 exposures in schools and minimize in-person learning. Last year, surveillance testing was not limited to a random 10% sample of students. This means that this year with even 100% opt in, only around 60 students at BE have access to surveillance testing from each week.
- We can also advocate for a more equitable and faster way to test symptomatic students with an in-school COVID-19 testing program. Currently, families must access testing independently if the student has a COVID-19 symptom and close contacts must quarantine. This can lead to issues with timely testing access and delays in the return of COVID19 test results. Immediate availability to testing with quick turn around at the school building is important in reducing time in quarantine for our students.
You can reach out to our Board of Education (BOE) and County Council officials (contact information at the end) to voice your concerns.
- Testify at the Board of Education Meeting. The next BOE meeting is this week on September 9th. You can sign up until September 7th, 9AM to give either a virtual or in-person testimony on this issue here (https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/boe/community/participation.aspx).
- Share your feedback on these issues with MCCPTA here (https://forms.gle/zGZcFjTKXnhD3dh19). MCCPTA’s current advocacy priority is to “Prepare for a safe return to school buildings in the Covid-19 environment, guided by evidence-based, specific, and transparent criteria, including additional space, equipment and supplies that may be needed.”
- If you are a subject matter expert on these issues and want to lend your expertise to this cause, please email Cynthia Simonson, MCCPTA President at email@example.com.
Contact information for County Council, Board of Education:
Board of Education:
County Executive (Marc Elrich)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Hucker)
email@example.com (Evan Glass)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Hans Riemer)
email@example.com (Will Jawando)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Gabe Albornoz)
email@example.com (Andrew Friedson)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Craig Rice)
email@example.com (Sidney Katz)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Nancy Navarro)