The school moves over 10 million people. Making it work by guaranteeing our children education and defense from Covid is a great challenge. Quick tests will help us win it
There is an experience that we have all lived: going to school. And, whether we liked it or not, it was important because it involved us for at least 8 years.
Of the school we remember the classmates, the teachers and the "janitors", the moments of play and the commitment to study, the exams and the transition to subsequent classes. In addition of course to holidays. But perhaps we never thought that school is a huge reality that requires a very complex organization. State schools, equal and private, including those for children, are 66,811 and are attended by 9.2 million children and teenagers. To these must be added 835 thousand teachers and 207 thousand administrative, technical and auxiliary.
In other words, the school moves more than 10 million people (without considering the parents) who travel by various means and meet outside the school building, along the stairs and corridors, in the classroom. It is evident that preventing Covid-19 infection in this reality is crucial and difficult.
Let's see briefly how the problem was addressed and how rapid tests can help the school.
The indications of the Ministry for Schools
The reference document on this issue is that of the Higher Institute of Health of 28 August: Operational guidelines for the management of cases and outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 in schools and childhood education services.
For the part concerning children / young people, precise indications are given on what to do if there are symptoms that can be traced back to the coronavirus.
Teachers who recognize certain symptoms in a pupil – clearly indicated in the document – communicate it to the school's Covid representative, who accompanies the pupil to the Covid classroom and alerts the parents.
Parents come to pick up the child and immediately notify the pediatrician or doctor, who assesses whether a swab is necessary. The doctor, who knows the patient's history, can decide that those symptoms are not to be reported to Covid and therefore the child / boy stays at home until the symptoms disappear and is readmitted to school with a medical certificate.
If the doctor decides instead that the swab must be done and the test is positive, the child / boy will remain at home in quarantine for 10 days and so will his family. Once the quarantine is over, he will be readmitted to school after taking the control swab.
Classmates, as long as it is only a Covid-19 suspect, continue to go to school. If suspicion becomes certainty, being "close contacts", they will have to face quarantine (but not their family members). To be readmitted to school, they too will have to undergo the tampon and have the certificate of recovery made by the pediatrician / doctor.
For this mechanism to work, collaboration between school, parents and doctors is necessary. Collaboration based on mutual trust and communication: two elements that are the result of the commitment and responsibility of every single person involved. But this is another issue.
Buffers: where they are done and when the results arrive
A question that is often asked is: where are tampons made? They are done in vaccination centers, that is, in health facilities (ASLs and hospitals) with operators and tools suitable for sampling and analysis. But with the arrival of rapid tests, they could be done in the offices of pediatricians and family doctors or even at school. Speed is a decisive factor when suspicious cases arrive from schools because the results need to be communicated as soon as possible to teachers, classmates and families.
The results of the swab are obtained in one / two days, while the rapid antigen tests give a response in 15/20 minutes. This means for example that a child can know immediately if he is negative and can go back to school as soon as the pediatrician / doctor certifies his negativity. At the same time he can immediately reassure the class and the parents of his peers.
Antigenic tests – which involve a nose / pharyngeal sampling (those with saliva analysis are currently less reliable) – show the presence of virus components (antigens) and therefore indicate whether there is ongoing infection. There is no need for special tools, nor for specialized training of health personnel and for this reason they are already in use in airports and ports.
They are generally less sensitive than the classic molecular test and therefore the positives must still take the swab, which remains the reference test for the diagnosis of Covid-19. However, the speed with which the results arrive, the ability to test many people practically in any place and to frequently repeat the tests at low cost, swabbing only in cases of positivity, make them particularly suitable for use in the most " at risk ”such as airports or schools.
The importance of prevention to fight COVID
The Ministry of Health, with the circular of 29 September 2020, highlighted the usefulness of tests as a prevention tool for the entire school system and the Government has launched a tender for the supply of 5 million rapid antigen tests. These will contribute to monitoring the health of girls and boys, who have the right to attend nurseries and schools in the maximum safety that can be guaranteed today.
The school is today the area where it is most important to block the way to the virus and the tests are helping us.
To know more about the tests available today, you can read: Covid-19, what a sore test!
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