Pencils … check. Notebooks … check. COVID-19 testing … double check.
Kids are heading back into classrooms across America this fall, some for the first time in a year and a half. Children are getting to benefit from face-to-face interaction and in-person learning again, but many schools are determining what safety measures will remain — whether desks will move closer, if masks will come off in some areas, or if testing procedures will continue.
Yet, the pandemic evolves, and new concerns are raised as a very transmissible Delta variant causes a rise in COVID-19 cases.
The COVID-19 Delta variant is officially the dominant strain in the United States, proving to be highly transmissible, even more than the common cold, chicken pox or the flu. And as children under 12 await vaccine eligibility while variants like Delta spread, many parents are wondering, "how do I keep my family safe while keeping my child in the classroom?"
Rapid COVID-19 antigen testing is the answer, as it's proven to help us stay open and stay together.
As questions swirl around variants, reopenings and testing, we're answering six COVID-conscious questions on parents' minds this fall.
1. How can I keep my child healthy if they haven't been able to get vaccinated?
Vaccines offer a critical level of protection in the fight against COVID-19. But still, we've learned quickly over the past few weeks that testing remains a necessary companion for families, schools and communities during the pandemic. Testing with BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid antigen tests gives you the power to detect COVID-19 in 15 minutes. It's proved to be effective in testing students throughout the 2020-2021 school year. As it enables schools to frequently test their students and staff, it helped keep positivity rates in one El Paso, TX school below 2% even during local outbreaks. As cases rise, having that extra peace of mind can make all the difference.
2. What if my child's school does not offer COVID-19 testing?
Answers can still be in your hands. Testing is now widely available in many different options — from over the counter with no prescription needed at retailers around the U.S. and online, to a proctored, at-home test, to the professional tests you'd receive at a community testing site. Our BinaxNOW COVID-19 Self-Test can be used for children as young as 2 years old when samples are collected by an adult, and for self-collected samples from all people 15 and older.
3. Should my child be tested with a BinaxNOW test even if they haven't been knowingly exposed to COVID-19?
Parents know that back-to-school season often means a return of common respiratory viruses, and your child coming home with a runny nose may raise extra concern. As respiratory viruses with similar symptoms like the flu, RSV and the common cold circulate this fall, using BinaxNOW tests can help rule out COVID-19 and help you navigate with your child's doctor whether they need medical care, additional testing, time away from the classroom, or something as simple as allergy medicine.
4. What do I do while I wait for a COVID test result?
BinaxNOW tests can detect COVID-19 in 15 minutes, so you can quickly determine next steps.
In the event of a positive result, your child can quickly quarantine to protect their classmates, teachers, and community. In the event of a negative test, your child can remain in their classroom and benefit from in-person instruction, with a little extra peace of mind.
5. Should other family members, including those who are vaccinated, test with BinaxNOW tests?
As this pandemic has taught us, the health of our families has a heavy impact on our overall wellbeing, safety, sanity and day-to-day life. As this pandemic evolves and cases rise with the Delta variant, having reliable answers in minutes can bring peace of mind quickly to your entire family and help family members engage in daily life, like running errands or heading to work, with added confidence.
6. With variants spreading, how will I know if COVID-19 testing can detect new variants like Delta?
Our tests are created with viral evolution in mind. We've seen variants in other infectious diseases over our three decades of virus hunting, and we expected no less with COVID-19. The Delta variant, along with all other variants of concern, primarily mutate in areas of the virus that we do not target with our tests. This is why these new variants do not affect test performance so far, and we expect that to continue. We continue to analyze new variants as they emerge around the world and remain confident our tests will detect them. We will remain vigilant.
As we navigate a new phase of this pandemic and try to ensure how we can keep our schools open and stay together, consider adding a BinaxNOW Self Test kit to your back-to-school shopping list.
Check out more information on BinaxNOW tests and where you can find a kit near you.
This story was originally published on August 20, 2021 and updated on June 03, 2022.