tags: Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities

By Erin F. Jones, BA, project manager for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at Kennedy Krieger Institute

The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) at Kennedy Krieger Institute and The Johns Hopkins University is continuing its collaboration with Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program. The project seeks to identify the barriers to and facilitators of COVID-19 testing and vaccination among parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) via online focus groups and questionnaires.

In July, the project team distributed an online survey to teachers, school staff members and administrators in Maryland and Missouri, with the goal of understanding educators’ perceptions of COVID-19 testing in schools. Responses from 205 educators indicate that they are most concerned about the health of themselves and others (family, friends, students), and that they feel they have good access to personal protective equipment and cleaning materials.

Surprisingly, when asked to rank the mitigation strategies they felt to be the most helpful in preventing the spread of COVID-19, most educators ranked weekly testing of students and staff low on the list. In-school mask mandates were ranked as more helpful than weekly testing, but not as helpful as disinfecting routines, vaccinations and daily health checks of students and staff members. Regarding student testing, the majority of educators reported that they do not feel comfortable administering COVID-19 tests to students, nor do they feel they have the time to do so.

In addition to the questionnaires, this project has also been conducting asymptomatic COVID-19 testing of teachers, school staff members and students using a saliva-based proprietary measure developed by Washington University and administered on-site at Kennedy Krieger School Programs. To date, more than 850 tests have been administered.