On March 8, 2021, LMTSD began a Covid testing program for teachers through Project ACE-IT (Assisting Childhood Education through Increased Testing). Currently, roughly 25% of the district’s staff participate in Project ACE-IT. The program, made available through the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Montgomery County Department of Health, involves weekly Covid testing of staff including aides, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and teachers who choose to opt in to the program. According to CHOP, the school can anticipate a 50 percent reduction of asymptomatic infections through this surveillance program.
The program uses the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test, which is dependent on a high viral load and requires a nasal swab. Participating staff first complete a consent form and register on the PA rapid testing app from which they get a QR code that nurses match to a testing kit. They then exit the building and wait in their cars for fifteen minutes until the results come back. Positive results are verified through a more reliable Covid test called the Q Machine.
The windows for testing are the two hour periods before and after school (6:30 to 8:15 at Pine Road and 2:30 to 4:15 at the high school). Though voluntary, staff who agreed to participate have guaranteed their participation through the rest of the school year. In February, over 50 percent of staff expressed interest in this program, surpassing the county minimum for its implementation. Part-time nurses were hired through second stimulus money and CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) funding. The district hopes to expand the testing to the student population in the future.