Across the nation, safely reopening schools that were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a top priority for many parents, educators, and policymakers alike. However, widespread safety concerns are a barrier to schools’ abilities to provide more in-person instruction. New RAND research finds that COVID-19 testing can be effectively integrated into K–12 schools’ COVID-19 response plans and can help families and staff feel more comfortable participating in in-person instruction.
The new report shares insights from a national scan and more than 80 interviews with early adopters of COVID-19 testing in K–12 schools as of December 2020. Authors found that even for well-resourced districts and schools, launching a COVID-19 testing program was a major undertaking that required access to rapid-turnaround tests, additional staffing, strong partners for logistical support, technical assistance for the design and execution of testing programs, and multi-pronged strategies for successfully engaging the school community to participate in testing.
The research includes recommendations for policymakers and school and district leaders to support the implementation of feasible, acceptable, and effective school-based COVID-19 testing programs, including expanding federal and state funding and resources to support testing in schools; conveying clear, consistent, and science-based messages around the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools and how testing can help to mitigate that risk; offering incentives and supports for teachers and families who need to isolate after a positive test; and enacting policies to expand laboratory capacity and access to tests that return results rapidly.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or would like to speak with an author of this research.