Wilson rolls out asymptomatic testing program

Natalie Gordon

Every week, 10 percent of the Wilson student population is randomly selected for a DCPS-wide asymptomatic testing program for COVID-19.

The program aims to accomplish DCPS’s goal of screening for COVID-19, in order to promote health and safety within the community. Students are automatically enrolled in the system, although parents have the ability to opt-out their children.

“Asymptomatic testing” refers to testing individuals even if they are not showing symptoms of COVID-19. According to an email from Principal Gregory Bargeman on September 19, 2021, at that point, over 200 students had been tested, and they received negative results.

For the testing, students go to the auditorium and take a non-invasive, saliva-based PCR test.

Generally, classes are notified within 24-48 hours in advance, but due to the newness of the asymptomatic program there were a few hiccups with communication between organizations in order to meet population sample quotas. However, it has now been resolved, and teachers should be notified further in advance of testing.

 In order to take the tests, students are not permitted to eat or drink an hour beforehand. Senior Koli Bennett-Bose, who took the test last week, said “our teacher told us about an hour and five minutes before [testing].”

However, for junior Julia Schroeder, who was selected to test with her choir class on September 9, there was inconsistent communication. “We walked up to one of the tables and the woman running the testing asked us if we had drank anything recently and when we said yes, she told us we couldn’t get tested. We then went up to another table and the woman just gave us the tests,” she said.

Senior Margaret Isacson is in the same class as Schroeder. “There were mixed messages,” she recounted.  

“People wait in the seats up at the top and then when you’re doing the test, you go down to the seat[s] near the front of the stage,” Bennett-Bose said. She participated in testing on September 21 with her second period AP Literature class.  

Students are required to deposit 1 to 1.5 milliliters of saliva into a funnel attached to a tube.

“Out of everyone in my class, it took me the longest to fill up the tube. So everyone was in line, trying to cheer me on. It was a struggle,” Bennett-Bose recalled.

Once the testing process is complete, students hand their samples to employees from Shield T3, a COVID testing organization partnering with DCPS. The organization takes the saliva samples to a lab to be tested. 

Then, students receive an information packet on how to view their results on the website using their student ID number, as well as instructions for any students who test positive. Results are supposed to be available within 24 hours.

While Isacson received a flyer with information on how to view her test results, Bennett-Bose did not. 

“The website was really easy to access and there were no tech issues,” said sophomore Paulina Stewart-Aday who was tested on Friday, September 10. “The whole process was really very simple, and you could tell the staff clearly had a successful system.” •