Screening Tests

What are the best kinds of screening tests for schools?
What do you need to know to choose among them?

Tracking US Coronavirus
Testing Capacity
Weekly Newsletter

(COVID-19 Response Advisors)

What new tests just arrived? How many tests are available in the country now, and how many are we projected to get access to in the near future? What’s the latest in the vaccine and testing landscapes, especially as they relate to reopening K-12 schools?

A collaboration between COVID-19 Response Advisors and Health Catalysts.

Massachusetts DESE Pooled Testing Program

In February, Massachusetts’ Department of Elementary and Secondary Education began a six-week program providing 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.

That’s wonderful news, but there are caveats: “In most cases, districts and schools will administer the tests using existing staff resources.” And after the six weeks are up, the schools are expected to purchase the tests themselves, “using their federal stimulus dollars.”

If you hear of a similar program in another state – or you can help districts with fewer resources fund the cost of starting and maintaining a screening program,
please let me know!

Samples from 10 individuals pooled in one test.
PCR and Pooled Testing

You’ve probably heard of PCR (short for polymerase chain reaction); it’s been the “gold standard” for COVID testing since the beginning. But individual PCR COVID tests are expensive. So how can you find a way to use them for COVID screening in your school? That’s where pooling comes in.

COVID rapid antigen test.
Image by dronepicr from Wikimedia Commons.
Rapid Tests

Now including both antigen and molecular tests.

What’s an antigen test? (Hint: It’s different from an antibody test.) If they’re so fast and cheap, should everyone be using them to screen in schools?

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
COVID Testing Lingo

Like every specialized field, biomedical testing has its jargon. Here’s what you need to know to speak the language.

COVID-19 Testing Commons logo.
COVID-19 Testing Commons

A searchable database of all the COVID tests in the world, plus all the tests in the pipeline. Created and maintained by Arizona State University, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.


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