Q&A: How the city, schools and state cooperate on coronavirus testing and results day to day
Kristin Ward, performance management and quality improvement specialist at Cambridge’s Public Health Department, answered questions regarding how the department works with Cambridge Public Schools administrators to respond to Covid-19 issues. The email exchange has been lightly edited for clarity.
How many individual tests for Cambridge Public School staff and students have been sent to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard?
As of the morning of Oct. 22, there have been 765 tests conducted among Cambridge Public Schools staff, and fewer than 15 symptomatic students have been tested.
How many tests have been positive?
There have been zero positive tests through the district’s surveillance system. One student tested at an outside facility did test positive.
How quickly do people get their test results?
The average turnaround time is 24 to 48 hours. The health department and school district are aware there are a small number of instances where test results have not been delivered within that time frame. We are working on improving this process. We recently sent a troubleshooting guide to district staff to resolve these issues and are developing better internal tracking systems.
Who notifies the city if a non-Cambridge resident who works in Cambridge Public Schools tests positive?
The nurse at each school and the principal are the designated people who will alert the health department of any positive cases. Additionally, the health department will see any positive students appear in the Massachusetts Virtual Epidemiologic Network, a statewide surveillance system.
Who notifies the district if a student at a non-CPS school tests positive – for instance, a student at a charter school with siblings in the district?
If the student has a Cambridge address, the health department will be alerted to their positive test result through the state Maven network, which provides report on infectious disease surveillance data, the charter school administration and/or the charter school nurse.