Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis

RADx Up Grant: COVID-19 Testing within the St. Louis County Special School District

Project Date
Sept 2020—Aug 2022

Type of Evaluation
Formative, Implementation, Planning, Process

Setting
Academic, Community-based, Health, School

Overview

The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis is collaborating with multiple partners to enable successful implementation of a newly approved saliva-based SARS-CoV-2 test for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and school staff so that schools can reopen and operate as safely as possible.

The Evaluation Center is facilitating discussion sessions with parents/caregivers and school staff to better understand facilitators and barriers to the uptake of testing, to information testing implementation and messaging strategies to maximize delivery of weekly COVID-19 testing at six schools.

Project Description

Background

Intellectual and developmental disabilities collectively affect one in six individuals in the U.S. population and exact a very serious, often catastrophic toll on quality of life. The primary goal of the project is to enable successful implementation of a newly approved saliva-based SARS-CoV-2 test for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and school staff so that schools can operate as safely as possible.

The team is partnering with six Special School District of St. Louis County schools to test different strategies to maximize delivery of weekly testing. Over the course of the study, the team will perform a minimum of 52,000 diagnostic tests on saliva. In addition, the team will assess national perspectives among parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and school staff regarding the impact of COVID-19 and the importance of testing. By identifying the most effective methods for SARS-CoV-2 testing in a vulnerable population of children, the team will establish a blueprint for wider adoption of COVID-19 mitigation efforts, such as vaccination. A national survey will also be implemented across the country to obtain a broader understanding of the impact of COVID-19, testing and vaccinations on children and their families.

The Washington University team is led by the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center and includes members from the Evaluation Center, McDonnell Genome Institute, Institute for Informatics, Center for Implementation and Dissemination, and Health Communication Research Laboratory.

The Washington University team is partnering with the Special School District of St. Louis County, University of Missouri Kansas City Institute of Human Development and Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Evaluation Center Activities

  • Design, conduct and analyze discussion sessions with parents/caregivers, teachers and other school staff to assess barriers and facilitators to regular asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students and staff.
  • Design, conduct and analyze key informant interviews with district and school administrators to understand the contextual facilitators and barriers to COVID-19 testing for schools.
  • Assess the impact of COVID-19 and the importance of SARS-CoV 2 testing as a mitigation strategy among parents of children with IDD and school staff.
  • Implement a participatory process to engage parents/caregivers and staff in the development of the discussion sessions and utilization of the findings through parent and school advisory groups.
  • Provide consultation on the testing process, study design, message development, dissemination approach, and product design.

Our Products

  • Discussion session guides and protocols
  • Discussion session findings report
  • Presentations and briefs
  • Annual reports
  • Manuscripts 

Project Funder

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, DHHS

Contact Person

Nancy Mueller, MPH

Assistant Dean & Director