Screening Strategy

Want to implement COVID-19 screening in your school? Here’s how.

Colored pencils. Image by Kranich17 from Pixabay.
The K-12 National Testing
Action Program (Rockefeller Foundation, 03.25.01)

This slide deck “provides guidance on two types of testing strategies – PCR and rapid antigen testing – and connects schools with leading testing vendors.” The object of the game is to enable schools to reliably test students and staff every week.

Includes contact info for a bunch of testing labs and test manufacturers around the country that have experience working with K-12 schools, as well as a handy worksheet to help schools evaluate vendors.

A good match. Image by athree23 from Pixabay
Find a Mentor

Looking for a school that can give you tips on how they made testing work?
On the Peer-to-Peer Hub of the Shah Family Foundation’s testing toolkit
you can find a similar-sized district that can help you out.

Open & Safe Schools logo. Graphic by Fer Sagastume.
Open & Safe Schools (CDC)

This toolkit is designed to help K-12 schools across the country implement COVID-19 screening programs.

You need to know the right questions to ask.
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay.
Vendor Checklist
For School Testing

(Mara Aspinall and
COVID-19 Response Advisors)

All the questions to ask when you’re selecting a vendor for COVID testing in your school district.

The When to Test Calculator
(MIT, MGH, and NIH)

This online calculator uses your COVID-mitigation measures to figure out how often you need to test your school population to decrease the risk of an outbreak. It provides results for a range of test types, including pooled PCR, and lets you know how much everything will cost.

The COVID-19 K-12 School Testing Dashboard
(Rockefeller Foundation
and Mathematica)

This online calculator does things differently. You input the type of school (elementary or middle/high), your quarantine policy, your community infection rate, and your priority for testing, and it tells you how well that strategy will work.

Map of Massachusetts regions.
Image by LtPowers from Wikimedia Commons.
Massachusetts DESE Pooled Testing Program

In February, Massachusetts’ Department of Elementary and Secondary Education began a six-week program (later extended through the end of the school year) providing free COVID screening via pooled PCR testing for any public PreK – 12 school in the state that is either currently providing some form of in-school instruction or plans to do so. As of February 25, 155 school districts (more than 950 individual schools) had signed up for the program.

On March 29, the state announced that the pool positivity rate overall was 0.76%, with an average pool size of 7 people. That, and the fact that none of the pools contained more than one positive individual, indicates that the likelihood of COVID transmission within the schools is extremely low.

Everything You Need to Know About Implementing COVID-19 Testing in Your School
(Shah Foundation)

This toolkit is designed to help Massachusetts K-12 schools implement the screening program set up by the state. If you’re thinking of following one of the Massachusetts Models, it’ll help you make it happen.

Another great place to get started is the
COVID-19 Testing Guidance for School Committees, created by members of the Safer Teachers, Safer Students collaborative.

Want to ask a question about COVID screening? Join the COVID-19 School Testing – Resource Group on Facebook.

Safer Teachers, Safer Students Dashboard

Developed by the data analysis folks at the Safer Teachers, Safer Students Collaborative. Shows which Massachusetts schools are conducting COVID screening, what kind of screening they’re doing and with which vendors, and whether students are remote, in person, or in a hybrid learning model.

The Massachusetts Models

These public K-12 schools have been screening for COVID-19 for weeks or months. Find a district on this list that looks like yours and see how they made it work.

Includes district geography (rural, exurban, suburban, urban) and size, plus the testing services provider and laboratory each district is using.

Colorful US map.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.
State-Run COVID Screening
In Schools

Some states have implemented COVID screening programs in at least some of their schools. Massachusetts’ and Vermont’s programs are the most comprehensive.

RAND Corporation logo.
COVID-19 Testing
In K-12 Schools:
Insights From Early Adopters

(RAND Corporation, 02.04.21)

Though aimed at national and state policymakers, this report contains lots of useful information on what it takes to make screening feasible in schools and acceptable to the community. It also includes “ten detailed profiles of schools, districts, and states that have implemented COVID-19 testing in the K-12 setting, [to] illustrate how these facilitators enabled schools to establish their testing programs.”

The Brooklyn Bridge. Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.
Testing Services Providers

These companies provide the bridge between the schools and the labs. Their services include software, training, couriers, physician’s orders, staff to handle sampling, and more. Make sure your vendor has worked with at least one K-12 school before, and use the vendor checklist for school testing so you know whether you’re comparing apples to apples or apples to Teslas.

Rockefeller Foundation logo.
COVID-19 Testing
In K-12 Settings
A Playbook for Educators
And Leaders

(Rockefeller Foundation)

“This playbook is designed to offer detailed, step-by step guidance to help educators, leaders, and their public-health partners put testing recommendations into action.” Developed by Testing for America with support from the Rockefeller Foundation
and the Skoll Foundation.


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