Cooke School, Mobile Health Partner to Provide On-Site COVID-19 Testing for Staff and Students

A desire to create a safe and healthy environment at its three New York City campuses and to reassure staff and parents motivated Cooke School to seek On-Site COVID-19 Testing from Mobile Health. The company’s on-site testing expertise and rapid reporting of test results via a dedicated client dashboard instill confidence/ensure that school staff and students are protected.

Each week, a Mobile Health registered nurse and a medical assistant test 20 percent of staff and students at the special education provider’s three New York City locations – grades K-8, grades 9-12, and a vocational ‘Transitions’ program for 18- to 21-year-olds.

“Providing testing on-site lets people know we are serious about keeping everyone safe,” says Francis Tabone, PhD, head of the Cooke Center for Learning and Development. “And it’s really healthy to get that 20 percent sampling each week. As an administrator, I need this data to know what’s going on in our population.”

To date, Mobile Health has administered more than 1,500 lab-based PCR tests at the school’s Manhattan, Harlem, and Lower East Side locations, with the goal of delivering test results in 72 hours or less through Cooke School’s dedicated client dashboard. ‘I Live on the Reporting Dashboard’

Cooke School administrators and parents rely on Mobile Health’s rapid and complete reporting of test results for an accurate picture of infection rates.

“I live on the reporting dashboard, in order to calculate my percentage rates,” says Tabone. “If an adult or student in a pod tests positive, then that pod has to shut down and quarantine for 10 days.”

Parents receive an email from Mobile Health’s secure and HIPAA-compliant online dashboard when their child’s test results are available and can then log in to retrieve results.

Currently, the school’s in-person learning teams are arranged in 26 pods, which reduces the impact of positive cases. Prior to pod formation, two positive tests anywhere in the school meant the entire school had to shut down for 10 days, he adds.

Cooke School opted to test 20 percent of its population weekly, following New York City guidelines in place when they initiated testing, Tabone explains. The individuals tested rotate weekly, in alphabetical order. This approach tests a cross-section of staff and students across classes and disciplines.

Consistency, Continuity Key

While testing children for COVID-19 always requires a gentle touch, Cooke School’s special needs population presents unique challenges, due to sensory issues experienced by some students. For this reason, the consistency and continuity of the Mobile Health team from week to week are critical, Tabone says. “The Mobile Health team knows the population, knows the kids, and knows the routine.”

A switch to shorter and less invasive mid-dermal and outer dermal nasal swabs over time also has made testing easier for students, he adds.

Mobile Health Meets Challenges of Multiple Sites

With Mobile Health support, the weekly testing program flows smoothly, Tabone reports, with test results delivered in a single day. “Overall, our experience with Mobile Health is very good, especially given the challenges of our having three locations. Having Mobile Health testing on site is a big deal.”

Looking ahead, the Cooke School administrator takes the long view on the need for COVID-19 testing in schools. “With infection rates what they are, we have to test. Parents are much more likely to send kids back to school if we are testing. We have a responsibility to provide it. And the data is really important.”

  • Sara Stein
    Written by:
    Sara Stein