In most cases, it is safer to conduct assessments remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is particularly true for older adults, people with underlying conditions, and even for children, in light of the new findings that the virus may cause serious outcomes in young people.
The logistics of test administration make it very difficult to physically distance during testing. Additionally, safety and the law require that in-person assessments be conducted with both the client and me wearing masks. However, masks are uncomfortable and distracting, and can make it difficult to hear clearly what people are saying. Masks also negatively affect rapport with children and teens, an important factor in testing. These factors may make it more difficult for me to interpret the data I collect during testing and I may not be able to determine why you or your child is struggling with certain tasks. Indeed, the American Psychological Association has recommended that telepsychology continued to be used when possible at this time. For these reasons, currently my strong professional opinion is that most assessments are better conducted remotely; they will produce better results and provide better answers to your questions.
I closed my office in March. Since then, I have been studying the research on remote testing, doing as many continuing education classes on teleassessment as I could find, and making certain I understood all of the guidance put forth by other professionals in the field. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, extensive guidelines have been disseminated building on existing research into remote assessment. Test publishers have adopted their materials so that they can be used for teleassessment and have offered online training for evaluators. With this knowledge, I have put into place all of the best practices in this area possible.
It is important for you to know how I am conducting remote assessments, if we decide that it is a good fit for you.
- I am using a secure, encrypted, HIPAA-compliant video platform to perform assessments.
- Some materials are mailed to testing clients. These are opened during test sessions, sealed on camera after they are completed, and sent back to me.
- Because teleassessments can be more tiring than working in person, test sessions may be shorter than they would be otherwise. For example, I might meet with a child for a three-hour session in person, but for a two-hour session online. This means more sessions overall, but by reducing fatigue the quality of the data is better.
At times, however, it may not be possible to conduct assessments remotely and in-person evaluations may be required. In these cases, it is important for you to know the precautions I am taking to protect my clients in the office:
- I am following all CDC, state, and local guidelines and regulations; these may change at any time.
- I will wear either a mask or face shield at all times and will require that clients do the same. I have both masks and face shields in the office for clients. These are disinfected after each use.
- I am taking clients’ temperatures using a no-touch, infrared thermometer before each session.
- I have placed hand sanitizer throughout the office.
- I am wiping down all testing materials, door knobs and other high-touch surfaces, testing tables and chairs, iPads, keyboards, and other technology after every use using alcohol or other disinfectants.
- I will take frequent breaks to use hand sanitizer or wash my hands.
- Only clients will be permitted in the office, except when absolutely necessary.
- I am requesting that clients pay by electronic means (PayPal or Venmo), if possible. When it is necessary to pay by credit card, I have installed a credit card reader in the office which requires minimal contact and I will disinfect it after each use.
- I will email invoices and reports to clients, rather than give paper copies, unless requested.