Calls for Action

I’m not the only one who thinks COVID screening in PK – 12 schools is a good idea.

Data from routine Covid testing can help schools stay open this year (STAT News opinion, 09.21.2021)

“Asymptomatic testing allows educators to accurately estimate how many students or staff infected with SARS-CoV-2 arrive at school. And by testing contacts of infected individuals, schools can measure how much viral spread follows these introductions. Having information about both can make the difference between acting quickly enough to arrest outbreaks and being forced to close unexpectedly.”

American flag made of paper loops. Image by April Bryant from Pixabay.
Biden Announces Executive Actions Meant To Help Reopen Schools (NPR, 01.21.21)

The list includes “a Pandemic Testing Board [that] will use the Defense Production Act and other means to produce and distribute more tests, including for schools. . . . [and] a call for the Education and Health and Human Services departments to take a more aggressive role in collecting, aggregating, analyzing and reporting data and best practices to help schools and businesses reopen safely. That includes collecting data on the equity impacts of prolonged school closures.”

The full text of the executive order is here.

Feds to Provide $10B
For COVID testing in schools

(NPR, 03.17.21)

The Biden Administration isn’t just calling for more COVID testing in schools, they’re providing actual, real live money to pay for it. The funds will come from the big American Rescue Plan relief bill and will be allocated on a state-by-state basis, as well as to five of the nation’s biggest cities. The CDC will provide technical assistance (based in part on the Massachusetts Models and the Shah Family Foundation’s toolkit) to places starting up testing programs.

Frustrated with the government’s virus response, citizens are building their own testing programs.
(Boston Globe, 01.31.21)

“Without a state or federal plan or even a central information site about . . . surveillance testing, these do-it-yourself operations have relied on word of mouth, mass e-mails, and informal introductions.”

With Robust Testing, We Can Open Schools This Spring (Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, Rockefeller Foundation, and Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers, 01.24.21)

“COVID-19 testing must become a way of life in schools: We need to test regularly and rapidly. Testing is an early warning system, particularly for a virus that transmits asymptomatically. Even after effective and safe vaccines become more widely available, regular testing is going to be needed to avoid outbreaks and protect children, and their families, because children do not yet have a vaccine approved for use. Based on what we’re seeing, a risk-based protocol could involve testing as frequently as twice a week for teachers and staff, and once a week for students. “

Taking Back Control:
A Resetting of America’s
Response to COVID-19

(Rockefeller Foundation, 12.16.20)

The foundation’s third national COVID-19 testing action plan “calls on the U.S. government to massively scale up COVID-19 testing to 300 million per month for students, teachers, and staff in order to reopen and keep open America’s nearly 100,000 public schools by March. “

COVID-19 testing in schools is the bridge to a safe return to
in-person learning
(Jake Auchincloss, US representative-elect for Massachusetts’s Fourth Congressional District, 01.03.21)

“Vaccinations are the ultimate solution. But widespread, recurring COVID-19 testing in schools is the bridge solution. For most of the population, vaccination is months away. Neither approved vaccine has yet been tested in children.

“. . . Mass testing empowers individuals and organizations to break transmission chains. Individuals who test positive — whether or not they have symptoms — can quarantine before infecting others. It gives communities the confidence they need to open schools, and keep them open safely.”

Even with a vaccine, widespread COVID-19 testing
is still crucial, experts say

(Laura Krantz, 12.18.20.)

“Experts said that widespread, frequent testing is likely the key to continuing some form of in-person learning until the vaccine is widely distributed.”

We need a Marshall Plan for our schools. And we need it now. (Richard Carranza, Austin Beutner and Janice Jackson, superintendents of the nation’s three largest school districts:
New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, respectively, 12.13.20.)

“It’s time to treat the dire situation facing public school students with the same
federal mobilization we have come to expect for other national emergencies,
such as floods, wildfires and hurricanes.
A major, coordinated nationwide effort — imagine a Marshall Plan for schools — is needed to return children to public schools quickly in the safest way possible.”

CDC Guidance for Expanded Screening Testing
To Reduce Silent Spread of SARS-CoV-2

(Updated 12.04.20.)

Says it right there: “Teachers and staff in K-12 schools and/or childcare settings” should be prioritized for screening. According to these guidelines, the entire country should be testing these prioritized groups AT LEAST once a week. 

How Often Is COVID-19 Spreading
In Massachusetts Schools?
(Naomi Martin and Stephanie Ebbert, 12.09.20)

According to this article, not very often, which is good. There are ways to make schools safe enough for in-person schooling, and many schools are doing those things. However, without widespread testing, we have no way of finding asymptomatic cases.

Reopening Schools Requires State Support 
(Jared C. Nicholson,
Lynn School Committee, 12.08.20)

“The state needs to do more than just tell educators to get children back in schools. They need to provide “customized strategies to reduce in-school health risks,” including COVID testing, fixing ventilation in school buildings, providing temporary outdoor spaces, and giving coordinated guidance on when and how to return to school-based activities.

The Missing Piece —
SARS-CoV-2 Testing
And School Reopening

(Yasmin Rafiei, B.Sc., and Michelle M. Mello, J.D., Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Law School)

“Immediate attention to improving testing access and response planning is essential to the successful reopening of schools. . . . Because testing-related challenges pose a serious threat to the viability of school reopening plans, we believe that increasing routine screening using rapid tests in schools should rank among our most urgent national priorities.” Published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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