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PPS Athletics COVID Testing

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On March 19th, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released an updated order that impacts how we operate athletics.  In this new order all athletes ages 13 - 19 are required to be tested for COVID weekly.  Here is the specific language in the order:  Beginning on April 2, 2021, gatherings for the purpose of sports practice and competition involving persons age 13 to 19 are prohibited unless all such persons participate in a testing program as specified in the MDHHS publication entitled Interim Guidance for Athletics issued March 20, 2021.

Portland Public Schools is required to follow this order and therefore we will begin testing all athletes starting on Monday, April 12th.  Any team that practices over spring break will also need to test athletes during the week of spring break.  Any athlete participating in required or voluntary practices or contests will need to be tested weekly for COVID.  

Since this order was released we have worked on the logistics of testing over 300 athletes every week with minimal impact to academics this spring.  This is no small task and is definitely not a task that we have experience doing.  So, we wanted to take some time to understand this order completely and develop a system that recognizes the needs of all students and ensures that student safety and academics are maintained as our focus.  I ask in advance for your patience and understanding as we work this out.

We will test all athletes every Monday morning starting at 7am.  This is our only testing date and time.  All athletes will need to test on Monday mornings.  Failure to test will result in the athlete being ineligible to participate for the week.  We will run testing sites at both the Middle School and High School.  Our doors at both buildings will open at 7am only for those students who need to be tested for that week.  High School students should be dropped off at the main entrance (flag pole) and Middle School students should be dropped off on Storz Ave (flag pole).  

In order to participate in athletics the student needs to be tested on Monday morning.  It is best to transport your student to the school on Monday morning and drop them off at 7am.  Those students who only have district transportation to school will be directed to the gym for testing as soon as they get off the bus.  Students getting tested, whether dropped off by parents or by the bus, are to report directly to the gym.  Do not go to lockers or anywhere else in the building.  This will help prevent any close contacts until after testing is complete.

Testing on Monday is the best way for the district to minimize the number of close contacts that need to be quarantined if we have a positive case.  When we trace we are required to go back two days prior to the positive test date or the date of symptoms.  By doing this on Monday mornings we will not have any contact tracing during the school day.  Testing mid-week or after school may result in quarantining students who are not participating in athletics this spring.  Parents should do all that they can to drop off their students needed to be tested before school.  Students unable to test on Monday will not be able to participate until they have been tested.  We do not have the ability to test every day and all day.  If your child is out sick on Monday you will need to contact Mrs. Davis or Mrs. Dewitt immediately.  Unfortunately there may not be another opportunity to test that week.  If that is the case then the student will be ineligible to practice or participate for the week.  

All athletes will need to have this form signed and on file before testing:

  1. MI Safer Sports COVID-19 Testing Program: Participant Code of Conduct

Athletes will also need to submit a copy of this form every time they are tested (we will have copies at the test site but it will help to have it filled out prior to coming to school):

  1. Consent and Registration Form for Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test

When students are dropped off they will be directed to report directly to the gym.  Once in the gym we will collect forms and start the testing process.  The district does not purchase these tests as they are provided by MDHHS.  We are using the BinaxNOW test.  You can learn more about the test and the process at the links below:

Once a student has been tested they will wait for about 15 minutes until results can be read.  If the student tests negative they will be allowed to leave the gym and start their normal school day.  If the student tests positive we will remove the student from the gym and escort them to an isolation room.  The student will need to immediately isolate for 10 days and any close contacts to this student will need to quarantine for 10 days.  We will contact parents to come pick the student up from the school.  Students testing positive will be directed to get a PCR test within 48 hours.  If the PCR test comes back negative then the student and any close contacts will be allowed to return to school and athletics.

I know this is a lot of information and I am sure we will answer a lot of questions over the next couple of weeks.  I ask that you reread this email and review the documentation linked in this email before sending questions to us.  If your answer isn’t in this email please reach out to the following people for questions:

We fully appreciate your concerns with all things COVID.  Please know that we are required to follow MDHHS orders.  We cannot deny those orders and we can only do our part to make these requirements as manageable and appropriate as we can for our families, students, and staff.  This is an ever growing task this year and we continue to do all we can to make this work.

We appreciate all of your support and patience.  Go Raiders!

Will Heath
Superintendent
Portland Public Schools




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