California’s prep sports coronavirus testing plan: What you need to know

As high school competition in football and water polo draws closer, most Bay Area athletes will not be subject to the required weekly testing outlined in California’s new guidelines for outdoor sports. For the thousands of student-athletes and coaches in other parts of California, the state this week provided new details on the logistics of the testing regimen.

School districts will be responsible for requesting and administering nasal-swab tests each week to student-athletes and staff members on football, water polo and rugby teams in counties with adjusted case rates between 7 and 14 per 100,000, according to guidance released this week. The test kits will be supplied by the state, which will use its own lab to report the results within 48 hours, the guidance says.

Those fighting for the return of youth sports were thrilled with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement last month but were left with questions about how the testing requirement would be implemented. Below, you can find a list of common questions with answers sourced from the new state testing guidelines, which are available to read in full here.

Who is required to be tested?

All student-athletes and staff members in high-contact sports — football, water polo and rugby — in counties with adjusted case rates between 7 and 14 per 100,000. Above 14/100K, no contact sports are permitted. Below 7/100K, testing is not required but it also is not funded by the state.

In the Bay Area, all but three counties — Contra Costa, Solano and Sonoma — have lowered their adjusted case rates below the required testing threshold. Whereas in Southern California, every county except San Luis Obispo must still conduct weekly testing for high-contact sports.

Testing for athletes and coaches in sports not deemed high-contact is also not covered by the state, nor are any athletes playing sports through clubs or private schools.

Student-athletes below the age of 13 are also not included in the testing requirements. If at least half the team is under 13, none of its players are subject to the testing requirement but coaches would be.

Who is supplying the tests and how does my district sign up?

All school districts in California should have received an onboarding email for a program that allows them to request test kits from the state, according to the guidelines. School districts should submit requests for the required number of test kits through a program called Color, the guidelines say.

The onboarding process takes an average of two weeks, according to the guidelines, but it is possible to be completed more quickly. Many public schools have already enrolled in the program to open in-person learning, and the state says it is “committed to accelerating” the sign-up process.

Once specimens are collected, the tests will be run at the new state-run Valencia Branch Laboratory. Results will be provided within 24 to 48 hours after the lab has received the test, the guidelines say.

Specimens? How do we collect those?

The tests provided by the state will be anterior nasal swabs, which can be self-administered at sites stood up on school campuses. The state says it will provide support in setting up those sites, including test kits, test registration software, test processing and technical assistance at no cost.

School districts will be responsible for providing a physical space for testing and managing on-site logistics once it is up and running, which will require staff from the district to supervise the self-administered nasal swabs.

Districts will also be responsible for “select costs related to transport, site administration (and) equipment,” according to the guidelines, such as shipping costs for the tests to the Valencia lab and personal-protective equipment for the site.

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When must I have my results in order to play?

A negative test result clears a student-athlete to participate in any competitions for the next week. The test result is only required to be available at least 24 hours prior to competition, meaning any weekly testing regimen would suffice, according to the state.

The collection of the specimen can occur any time in the week prior to competition, as long as the result is available 24 hours ahead of time.

Are private schools or athletes in club sports allowed to sign up?

No, the state-provided testing through its Valencia lab is open only to athletes in high-contact sports at public schools. However, private and charter schools may apply to set up their own collection site here.

Source: FS – All – Interesting – News 2
California’s prep sports coronavirus testing plan: What you
need to know