• Millville Public Schools and Grapefruit Testing:
    A Public-Private Partnership Success Story


    In August 2021, the Governor of New Jersey signed Executive Order No. 253, requiring all preschool to Grade 12 school personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be subject to weekly testing. Following the announcement, school districts across the state were given the choice of working with state-appointed testing providers (Option #1) or identifying their own providers (Option #2).

    Given this choice, Millville Public Schools researched and met with providers, and ultimately chose to work with Grapefruit Testing, a company with impressive credentials and established testing programs in school districts across the country.

    We are now several months into our partnership with Grapefruit. Our staff testing program operates in our school buildings on a weekly basis with minimal disruption to their day. Grapefruit operates two COVID-19 testing “pods” on district properties to provide free rapid and PCR tests to our community with great success. This infrastructure of accessible COVID-19 testing options has allowed Millville Public Schools to remove barriers for our families and personnel, ensure the health and safety of our schools, and maintain in-person learning since the opening of school in September.

    When we reviewed our data and discovered we were seeing large numbers of students in quarantine as a result of contact tracing, we worked with Grapefruit to introduce a solution: Test-to-Stay, a targeted testing program for students and staff identified as close contacts to a positive case in our buildings. The Test-to-Stay (TTS) program allows unvaccinated staff and students the opportunity to follow a testing program while remaining in school, thus removing the need to quarantine and minimize loss of access to in-person learning.

    The process is simple. Once staff and students are identified by our district COVID Nurse as qualifying for Test-to-Stay, they are given the choice to participate (students with parent or guardian consent). These individuals may visit the district COVID-19 testing pods and will undergo a rapid test on Day 1, Day 3, and Day 5 following their close contact notification. A paper ticket is issued that requires sign-off of the testing technician and the school nurse. If all tests are negative by Day 5, the staff member or student exits the program and continues with in-person learning as normal. If at any time a test returns a positive result or the individual displays symptoms, they will enter the required quarantine process.

    This program was piloted in two of our schools (800 students) with great success. It is now available to all of our nine schools (5000 students) and is certain to provide yet another safeguard to keep our students healthy and safe, while also reducing unnecessary quarantine time. We have seen the negative academic, social, and emotional effects on our students due to pandemic-related remote learning and the isolation that resulted. Our district schools in particular also provide essential support to our students such as regular meals. We will do everything in our power to ensure they are safely in school with us. To do otherwise would be moving backwards, and Millville Public Schools is focused on moving our students forward.