Protect Your Health
Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA)
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) are partnering to offer the Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA) COVID-19 Testing program through July 2023. This program is funded through the CDC ELC Reopening Schools Award. COVID-19 testing remains an important prevention strategy, intended to be combined or layered with other strategies like vaccination.
Support for End-to-End COVID-19 PCR Testing
ViSSTA provides testing vendors, supplies, and staffing to support an end-to-end COVID-19 testing experience.
Schools/school divisions have the opportunity to opt-in to the ViSSTA program. It is not required.
All Testing is Voluntary
Testing will be voluntary for students and staff at participating schools. Only individuals who return completed consent forms may be tested.
Schools are responsible for:
- Identifying groups for testing (e.g., all students, all staff, specific extracurricular programs)
- Coordinating the collection of student/staff consent forms
- Providing space and time for testing
- Implementing any containment/mitigation guidance
- Complying with reporting requirements
Testing support for special events
Schools may also request testing support for special events (e.g., back to school/post-vacation, school dances, conferences).
The Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance program, or ViSSTA, is a free COVID-19 screening testing program for Virginia public and private K-12 students, teachers, and staff available for the 2021–2022 and 2022-2023 school years.
No. Although the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) strongly encourages schools to participate, the ViSSTA program is optional. In combination with other mitigation strategies, screening testing is an important layer of prevention against the transmission of COVID-19.
Screening testing can help promptly identify and isolate cases and identify disease clusters. This can help reduce the risk to students, teachers and staff, and controlling outbreaks before they expand can help limit any disruption to in-person education. Any screening test performed in the school setting is voluntary and requires parental consent prior to testing. Contact your local school division for additional information. The CDC provides FAQs for Parents and for additional information from VDH, see Interim Guidance for the 2022-2023 school year and K-12 Testing in schools.
Screening testing can help promptly identify and isolate cases and identify clusters. This can help reduce the risk to students, teachers and staff, and control outbreaks before they expand to limit disruption to in-person education. Screening testing can also be used to help evaluate and adjust prevention strategies and provide added protection for schools that are not able to provide optimal physical distance between students.
Any screening testing performed in the school setting is voluntary and requires parental consent prior to testing. Contact your local school division for additional information.
Diagnostic testing is intended to identify current infection in individuals and may be performed when an individual has signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or is a close contact of an individual with COVID-19.
Schools interested in diagnostic testing may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or adopt a referral-based diagnostic testing approach. VDH has a testing site locator which may be helpful for schools to use for testing referrals.
Public and private schools can be matched with vendors who will conduct screening testing in schools. Public schools can also receive funding for needed supplies and/or to hire local school staff to support the program, such as school division testing coordinators, school nurses or mitigation specialists. There is no cost to schools to conduct screening testing in schools. Schools may have to assign certain duties to existing staff to help support the program and liaise with the vendor and school community to help make the program successful.
The school testing program is open to all students, teachers, and staff. Testing is completely free to participants.
The program is open to Pre-K or early education programs only if the students/faculty are co-located with K-12 students/faculty.
Yes. The ViSSTA program is open to both public and private schools.
The turnaround time for tests is approximately 24–48 hours from the time specimens are received by the lab to results being reported. Most labs return results within 24 hours.
The samples are processed at partner labs that VDH has contracted with for the ViSSTA program, including:
- Aegis Labs
- Mako Diagnostics
- Next Molecular
Individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days should be excluded. After 90 days, they may be included again in screening testing.
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