Please read and review Pingry’s Informed Consent for Participation document regarding Return-to-School COVID-19 Testing.
Specific details regarding Pingry’s testing logistics can be found here.
Pingry Anywhere COVID-19 TESTING SCHEDULE
The table below lists the Distribution Day, Collection Day, and Campus Access Window for the weekly testing cycles remaining in 2020. “Campus Access Window” refers to the period of time that you will NOT be permitted on either campus, at any time, if you did not participate in that week’s testing cycle, and if you did not provide a negative result from an independent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test administered within 48 hours of the collection date.
[table id=1 /]
COVID-19 TESTING AT PINGRY
As stated in the letter from Head of School Matt Levinson on September 21, Pingry has recently partnered with Mirimus Labs, based in Brooklyn, to conduct weekly, non-invasive, saliva-based, pooled testing for COVID-19 for all students and employees who will be coming to our campuses. Mirimus Labs’ offering meets the School’s criteria to reliably conduct COVID-19 testing with accuracy and a quick turnaround speed. Pooled testing is a resource-effective way to efficiently test large groups and receive fast and accurate results, usually within 24 hours.
Please be mindful that this additional safety measure is intended to complement—and not replace—the behavioral norms (daily temperature checks, completion of the pre-arrival health screening form, wearing masks), infrastructure changes, and other adjustments we have made to keep our community safe and our campuses open. In addition, members of our community are expected to continue to take measures while they are not on campus, such as avoiding large gatherings and wearing face masks, to further mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
Everyone planning to be either on the Basking Ridge or Short Hills Campuses at any time will be required to test weekly. Individuals who are unwilling or unable to participate in weekly testing through Pingry must provide a negative test result from a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test administered within 48 hours of the saliva sample collection date in order to be permitted on campus. Students who do not participate in Pingry’s weekly testing and do not provide a negative test result from an independent PCR test will not be permitted on campus – including for extracurriculars – but will be welcome to participate in the remote offerings of Pingry Anywhere.
For your reference, a detailed FAQ about COVID-19 testing at Pingry follows below. Please be sure to review and discuss these materials with your children.
We believe that testing of the entire Pingry community will help us quickly identify isolation and/or quarantine needs to stop further community spread. The School is prepared to respond accordingly to ensure a seamless continuation of your child’s educational experience. Thank you for your continued collaboration and support.
Important Guidelines for Submitting Your Saliva Sample:
For a submitted sample to be considered viable, the saliva sample must be:
•At least 1.0 mL (i.e., at least a half-full vial)
•Submitted on-time on collection day.
An insufficient sample amount may cause the lab to deem the sample nonviable and results from an independent PCR test administered within 48 hours before or after 9:15am on the collection day will be required for campus access. Local testing locations can be found online at New Jersey’s COVID-19 test site finder.
Some Tips and Tricks to Help with the Saliva Sample Collection Process:
•Plan for at least 15 – 20 minutes.
•A small tap on the tube will decrease the “bubbles” from the saliva, giving you a more accurate volume reading.
•Ask your child to ‘pool’ saliva in their mouth to help avoid “bubbly saliva” and help capture more of their saliva in the sample tube.
•If your child is having difficulty generating saliva, try rubbing the outside of their cheeks, making chewing motions, imagining or smelling sour foods (e.g., lemons) or their favorite food.
•The straw can also be used to help guide saliva into the sample tube for collection.
•Be sure that the cap (not the straw) is securely tightened after collection
If your child does not currently have campus access because they did not submit a sample or test results from an independent PCR test during the previous testing cycle and would like to participate in this testing cycle, they will only be permitted on campus between 2:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Distribution Day to pick up their testing kit from the designated location (Front Desk for Short Hills, Miller A. Bugliari ’52 Athletics Center for Basking Ridge). As a reminder, a proxy may pick up the child’s testing kit. To be clear, students without campus access are expected to participate as remote learners on Distribution Day. On Collection Day, provided that they submit a sample by 9:15 a.m., they will be permitted to be in-person learners on Collection Day.
COVID-19 TESTING FAQs
If you were unable to attend the September 23 Health & Safety webinar on COVID-19 testing, a video recording of it can be found here.
Why is Pingry starting testing now?
As previously shared in our family webinars, Pingry has been actively exploring testing options in search of a partner who is able to deliver on our requirements of reliability, efficiency, and affordability. Upon confirmation earlier last week that Mirimus Labs meets these requirements, we have swiftly moved to implement and roll out testing for all on-campus individuals. Testing will allow us to better identify, isolate, and contact trace confirmed positive and presumed positive COVID-19 cases in our community. Combined with our contact tracing efforts, new behavioral norms, and infrastructure investments, testing will enable us to minimize the presence of the COVID-19 virus on campus.
Who will be tested?
Pingry will begin a weekly routine of testing all students, faculty, and staff who will be on campus. If a student does not participate in testing, the student will not be permitted on campus until the next on-campus testing opportunity and will engage in classes as a remote learner in the Pingry Anywhere model. Participation in testing is required for on-campus presence, as well as participation in athletics and/or co-curriculars.
What is pooled testing?
Rather than test each individual student and employee separately, a time- and resource-intensive process, samples can be combined—or pooled—to cut down on the number of tests. Mirimus technology tests 24 samples at once, if one sample within a pool tests positive, the entire pool is flagged for further testing as described below.
How will testing be conducted?
STEP 1. Once a week, students, faculty, and staff will receive a clean, individual testing kit containing a barcoded sample collection tube and additional supplies (e.g., alcohol wipes for sanitizing after sample collection).
STEP 2. The following morning, individuals will safely self-collect saliva samples at home. Please review the sample collection instructions here (written) and here (video). The ideal time for saliva sample collection is immediately after waking up in the morning. Do not use mouthwash for at least 2 hours prior to providing your sample. Do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, or brush your teeth at least 30 minutes prior to providing your sample. This is critical to the viability of the sample collected.
STEP 3. That morning, individuals will bring the barcoded collection tubes back to campus where they will be taken by Pingry personnel at temperature check stations. All individuals on campus must provide a test sample in order to remain on campus.
Upon collection, the School will scan the barcode on the collection tube and the barcode on Pingry-issued IDs to record the individual’s name associated with the sample. Students, faculty, and staff without a Pingry-issued ID will receive one this week. The barcode and identifying individual association will only be used by the School if required for additional testing or contact tracing. No identifying information will be shared with Mirimus Labs. Strict confidentiality and limited Pingry-only access will be maintained to protect the privacy of individuals.
STEP 4. The same day, the collected samples will be couriered to the lab for testing. The lab will then test the samples using “pooled testing,” meaning the lab will group individual samples into batches of approximately 24. A small amount of each individual sample in the batch will be mixed together to create a combined pooled sample.
- If COVID-19 is not detected in the combined pooled sample, no further action is required.
- If COVID-19 is detected in the combined pooled sample, the lab will conduct additional testing to narrow down which sample(s) were positive. Due to current regulation regarding observed sample collection for individual diagnostics, the specificity with which Mirimus is allowed to report is limited to a pair of samples (i.e., a sample containing a mix of two saliva samples). The barcodes associated with that pair of saliva samples will be reported to the School.
- Submitted saliva samples are only used for COVID-19 testing and all saliva samples are destroyed by the lab after one week.
STEP 5. The Pingry Contact Tracing Team will reach out to the individuals associated with COVID-19 Detected pairs. Both individuals in the pair are considered potentially positive for COVID-19. In an abundance of caution, both will be required to isolate and participate in contact tracing protocols. Any additional individuals identified as having had meaningful close contact with the potentially positive COVID-19 cases will be required to quarantine for 14 days. However, anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and who meets the following criteria (as per CDC guidelines) does NOT need to stay home:
– Had COVID-19 illness within the previous 3 months AND
– Has recovered AND
– Remains without COVID-19 symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath)
For more information on why a 14-day quarantine is mandatory for a potential COVID-19 case, please review this infographic.
Individuals who are considered potentially positive for COVID-19 as a result of the pooled testing are encouraged to independently proceed with additional PCR testing (additional information regarding the three types of COVID-19 tests can be found here. Proof of a negative result from a PCR test administered within 48 hours of the School’s notification will allow the individual back on campus and un-quarantine identified contacts. Any individuals experiencing difficulty accessing additional COVID-19 testing are recommended to reach out to Mr. Gilberto Olvera, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Does being quarantined mean that transmission has occurred?
No, quarantine does not necessarily mean that a transmission of the virus has occurred. A contact may be quarantined because they have had identified, extended close-contact exposure to a positive COVID-19 individual (i.e. within 6 feet for 15 or more cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period), which may signify a higher chance of transmission. The behavioral norms adopted by our community (e.g., masks, face shields, physical distancing, hand hygiene, temperature checks, pre-arrival health screening form) and additional campus infrastructure measures (e.g., plexiglass, air filtration, electrostatic cleaning, use of outdoor space) all help to minimize the risk of transmission, including during extended close-contact exposure.
When and how will we hear about the results of testing?
Individuals who are identified as potentially positive for COVID-19 by Pingry’s testing will be immediately contacted. Any additional individuals identified through the contact tracing process will also be contacted. The Pingry COVID-19 Tracking Dashboard, which currently reflects cases and quarantines identified through all sources, will be updated to reflect community testing metrics. Any changes required to campus operations will be communicated in a timely manner.
How reliable is the test?
The saliva test’s accuracy is virtually identical to that of individual PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which are the most accurate types of COVID-19 tests currently available. Mirimus has conducted experiments comparing results from pooled and individual tests of the same individuals from a very close point in time and found a 97 percent match. Retesting exactly the same samples with the corresponding individual test yielded a 100 percent match. Pooled sample testing is encouraged and supported by the FDA with proper validation.
Is there a potential for false positives?
The test cannot be guaranteed to be 100% accurate. False positives are possible but rare. The test utilized by Mirimus Labs detects three different unique viral RNA templates. For a positive result, at least two RNA templates must be detected. The protocols used substantially decrease the likelihood of false positives by detecting dead viral particles.
What are the costs associated with this testing?
Pingry is covering the cost of the weekly non-invasive, saliva-based pooled test from Mirimus. However, families and employees are responsible for the cost of any other COVID-19 tests they may choose to get, including potential follow-up resulting from Pingry’s Mirimus test. Please note that most medical insurance plans cover 100% of the cost of COVID-19 tests. Any individuals experiencing difficulty accessing additional COVID-19 testing are recommended to reach out to Mr. Gilberto Olvera, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Where can I find an external COVID-19 testing site?
Local testing locations can be found online at New Jersey’s COVID-19 test site finder.
Does my child need to take the Pingry COVID-19 test if they are a remote learner during the day and only come to campus for co-curricular or afterschool activities (e.g., athletics, the arts)?
Yes, all individuals planning to be on campus at any time must participate in testing.
What if my child will be remote or unable to be on campus on distribution day?
If your child will be remote or unable to be on campus for test kit distribution, your child or a designated proxy may collect a testing kit from either campus, regardless of the student’s grade level, between 2:00 p.m.– 6:00 p.m. on distribution day. For Short Hills, please go to the main office. For Basking Ridge, please go to the BAC.
What if my child will be remote or unable to be on campus on collection day?
If your child will not be on campus for collection day, you may send a proxy with your child’s filled collection tube and your child’s ID. The ID will act as confirmation that the sample is your child’s and that you have designated this individual for proxy drop-off. All samples must be dropped off by 9:15 AM ET at the latest. The proxy may drop off the sample (accompanied by the Pingry-issued ID of the corresponding student) at either campus, regardless of grade level.
What if my child has had a confirmed case of COVID-19 (i.e., tested) in the last 3 months?
If your child has had a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 3 months, please submit a doctor’s note confirming such to the appropriate campus nurses(s) in place of submitting a saliva sample for testing.
What if my child plans to be fully remote?
If your child plans to be fully remote with no intention to be on campus for any reason, including for co-curriculars such as athletics or the arts, they do not need to submit a sample for testing. If this plan changes, your child must participate in the next testing cycle before being permitted on campus.
May I provide test results from an independent PCR (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 test instead of taking the Pingry COVID-19 test?
Yes, you may choose to submit results from an independent PCR (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 test administered within 48 hours before or after Pingry’s most recent sample collection instead of taking Pingry’s test. Testing locations can be found here. Please note that an antigen test is not an acceptable alternative to a PCR test. You will be responsible for any costs associated with obtaining a COVID-19 test from a source other than Pingry’s testing program. Most health insurance plans cover 100% of the cost of in-network COVID-19 tests. Submit your child’s submit test results to the appropriate campus nurse(s):
What if my child missed a Pingry testing cycle and we do not provide another acceptable test result?
Your child will not be permitted on campus and will be required to be a remote Pingry Anywhere learner starting the day after Pingry’s most recent collection day until the submission of appropriate test results.