The city’s Department of Education has teamed up with Rover Labs, a diagnostics technology company in Manhattan with a lab in New Jersey, to provide saliva testing for 50 city schools during a two-month pilot program, which started in June.
Fluidigm Corp., a San Francisco-based firm, developed the test, which studies microfluidics or the behavior of fluids.
“Fluidigm is grateful for the opportunity to provide Rover Labs with the technology to enable simple, affordable and accessible testing that can help keep staff and students healthy,” said Chris Linthwaite, Fluidigm president and CEO. “Collaborations with many labs and educational institutions are based upon our test, which offers a sample type that is easier to collect than invasive swabs, and that individuals often prefer from a comfort perspective.”
In all school buildings that have reopened with in-person instruction, students and staff from all five boroughs are subject to random weekly testing.
Through Rover Labs, they will be able to have saliva-based tests that are cost-effective, highly sensitive and seamless to implement, according to the diagnostics company.
“In-school testing is the backbone of the multi-layered approach to safety that keeps our schools safe with a current positivity rate of 0.04%,” Nathaniel Styer, a spokesman for the DOE, said via email. “We will continue to build partnerships and find innovative ways to provide fast, easy, and safe testing to our students this summer and fall.”
The testing takes three steps, according to rover-labs.com. A student or teacher leaves a sample in a vial, puts the vial in a sealed bag with a barcode for testing and then receives a notification of the result via text message.
The service is non-invasive and simple enough for high-volume collection, which is helpful in getting tests from children, according to a Rover spokeswoman. The process will also be overseen by school nurses and delivered to a lab in Eatontown, NJ, for processing.
The whole process should take less than 60 seconds and test results are delivered within 24 to 48 hours from Rover’s proprietary HIPAA-compliant application, Rover Cloud LIS, according to the spokeswoman. Testing began on June 1 and will continue through the end of the school year and into summer programming. The pilot program is operating in 12 Queens public schools, according to the spokeswoman
Rover Labs is not at liberty to provide the names of the schools within the pilot.
“The saliva COVID testing pilot in the NYC DOE is an important continuation of Rover’s mission to improve the comfort and convenience of testing for both kids and adults, as well as to reduce the cost and complexity of gathering samples,” said Mark Fasciano, Rover Labs’ CEO.
This article originally misstated where Rover Labs is located. It is in Manhattan. We regret the error.