Frequently Asked Questions
As community spread of COVID-19 endures in New Mexico, COVID-19 testing is key to slowing the spread and keeping students in their classrooms.
Below are answers to questions you may have. You can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For general public and consumer FAQs on COVID-19, please see FDA’s COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.
Can I apply for other types of testing when I submit my CLIA Certificate of Waiver application?
Yes, you may. The full list of CLIA waived tests can be viewed here.
Where can I find the latest guidelines for COVID-19 testing in schools?
The New Mexico Public Education Department has a school COVID-19 toolkit at this link.
I participated in an earlier Abbott BinaxNOW testing program with DOH, what do I have to do this time?
In the previous BinaxNow program, DOH owned the test kits and extended their laboratory certification to cover school sites. That program has expired. You will order the kits directly through the dashboard, providing you meet the requirements providing, including a CLIA Certificate of Waiver for COVID-19 Testing and training from the Abbott Corporation.
Who is eligible for this grant program?
All New Mexico school districts, charter schools, tribal schools, and nonpublic schools that are implementing a testing program will be eligible for grant funding.
Where can you find the link to register?
Should students and staff test if they are vaccinated?
Per CDC guidance as of October 2021, students and staff who are vaccinated do not need to participate in screening testing. They should, however, get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19. It is also recommended that they get tested if they were in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
How can students and staff access testing?
The student and staff COVID-19 testing program at each school may look different. We recommend looking over each program component.
Can relatives of school system employees or students be tested through this program?
No, school districts and schools can only test staff and students.
Are permission slips required to administer tests on students or staff?
Yes, all students are required to provide parental consent to testing. Consent forms will be supplied by the testing manufacturer via the program.
Who will be administering the tests?
Tests can be administered by trained school staff or by Premier Medical Group staff. If staff administer the tests, each site will need to submit a CLIA Certificate of Waiver, register in SimpleReports, and verify training before participating in the program. Please review the Program Guide to learn more about each program and the services available.
Will the state be providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to accompany this testing program?
Personal protective equipment (PPE) will not be provided to the school as a part of this testing program; however, PPE is an allowable expense under Program Option D of the grant.
What is pooled testing?
Pooled testing combines a number of collected test samples into a pool and analyzes the pool results. Pool testing is a method of surveillance testing and is best used during periods where a low-prevalence of positive results are expected. If a group receives a positive result, they will be retested individually to determine individual results and plan accordingly.
How does training with PMG (Program Option B) work?
All school districts and schools must have an active CLIA Certificate of Waiver and registration with SimpleReport before opting into training with PMG. Training takes place on-site, during testing, and lasts around a couple of hours. Up to six individuals can be trained at once. PMG can also implement a “train-the-trainer” model where one individual may be taught how to train others. The details of training can be discussed during the final implementation meeting with PMG.
What are allowable expenses for direct funding (Program Option D)?
There are two main categories of allowable expenses.
The first is COVID-19 Prevention, Mitigation, and Response.
These are expenses that protect your students and staff from COVID-19 through testing or screening programs, vaccination campaigns, and emergency response.
You can use it to hire new school health services staff, extend the hours of existing staff, outreach to your community, pay for PPE or your CLIA Waiver, or anything else that supports your COVID-19 prevention, mitigation, and response efforts.
The second category is COVID-19 Planning and Coordination.
These are expenses that have to do with your efforts to manage the planning, reporting, and storage. They include items like staff meeting time to discuss the COVID-19 plan and supplies for storing consent forms.
There are a few items that are not allowable expenses under this funding.
- Because we are providing testing through this program, paying for testing kits or a third-party testing provider is not an allowable cost under this funding.
- Similarly, health information systems will be provided through a separate portion of the grant and will not be an allowable expense.
- Lastly, this program is only to support COVID-19 prevention, mitigation, and response within your school staff and students. Using the funding for open community events or programs is not allowed.
How are funds distributed to charter schools?
Funds will be distributed directly to charter schools and not through their school districts.
Do I have to pay for PMG services?
No, all PMG services are at no cost to the school or school district.
Do PMG employees have background checks?
Yes, all PMG on-site staff must pass a background check.
How do I report the funds from the grant in my budget to PED?
PED has designated the fund 28211 NM Schools Covid-19 Testing Program DOH within OBMS.
My school already has a CLIA Certificate of Waiver for Covid-19 tests. What do I do with it?
You will be prompted to upload a copy of your Waiver as you complete your application to the New Mexico COVID-19 Testing and Screening Program.
Where do I find and submit the CLIA Certificate of Waiver application?
Please visit the CMS (Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services) site to find a copy of the application (CMS-116). The direct link is here. Once completed, the application should be submitted to the New Mexico Division of Health Improvement (DHI) at the contact address below:
NEW MEXICO Health Facility Licensing & Certification
Building 5301 Central Avenue NW, Suite 400
Albuquerque, NM 87108
(505) 222-8646 FAX: (505) 841-5834
Which tests/manufacturers do I include on the list of tests for which I am registering on my CLIA Certificate of Waiver?
You may want to include the following tests in your registration. Please note that all test types are subject to change in availability.
Rapid Antigen Testing, Test Name is Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag. Manufacturer is Abbott
Rapid Antigen Testing, Test Name is BD VeritorTM Plus System, Manufacturer is BD
Rapid On-Site PCR, Test Name is Accula Rapid PCR, Manufacturer is Thermo Fisher Scientific
Rapid On-Site PCR, Test Name is Visby Medical RT-PCR, Manufacturer is Visby Medical
I thought we received a CLIA Certificate of Waiver in Winter 2020 or Spring 2021?
In the early days of the pandemic, specifically last Spring, the NM DOH extended its CLIA (the actual laboratory certificate) and made schools participating an outreach site under an emergency situation. That program has now expired and schools and districts are now required to apply for their own CLIA Certificate of Waiver. Schools do not need to have a full CLIA laboratory certification and do not qualify for this type of certification. Again, you only need a CLIA Certificate of Waiver if you will conduct Point of Care testing.
My school has a CLIA Certificate of Waiver on file, but not for COVID-19 tests. What are my next steps?
If you already have a CLIA Certificate of Waiver on file for a different type of Point of Care test(s), the school or district must add the Covid-19 Point of Care test(s) that will be conducted. The school will need to notify the New Mexico State Agency that oversees this by emailing the brand and name of the Point of Care test(s) so that it is in writing. At this point, the NM State Agency will update the CLIA Certificate of Waiver on file. You will email to this address: Email: CLIA.DHI@state.nm.us
Why and when do I need a CLIA Certificate of Waiver?
If schools are storing or conducting any Point of Care (PoC tests), including COVID-19 tests, a CLIA Certificate of Waiver (CoW) is required for each site. The CLIA CoW should be issued before any PoC test is stored or conducted. Schools that will be using PMG, NMDOH’s full service COVID -19 testing provider and not their own staff to conduct tests do not need a CLIA Certificate of Waiver for COVID-19 PoC testing. However, the school or district may need a CLIA CoW if other PoC testing is being stored and conducted.
What is a CLIA Certificate of Waiver?
A Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) Certificate of Waiver enables schools to conduct FDA approved or Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) Point of Care (PoC) tests without undergoing a full clinical laboratory licensing process. Schools and districts are required to have a CLIA Certificate of Waiver for every site that conducts PoC testing, including COVID-19 tests.