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Oregon's COVID-19 Testing in K-12 schools

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE), in collaboration with Oregon Health Authority (OHA), has published Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 2021-2022 School Year. The vast majority of health and safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in Oregon’s K-12 schools are advisory, and are offered to schools to support successful full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year.

There are two student and one staff opt-in COVID-19 testing programs available to all public and private schools in Oregon.
About diagnostic and screening testing Learn about our testing programs Tips to help make testing easier for kids

Diagnostic Testing Program

Diagnostic testing is testing for individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 or those who have been exposed to COVID-19 through close contact with a case. The CDC recommends that all K-12 schools in Oregon offering in-person instruction offer free, on-site COVID-19 diagnostic testing such as that available through the COVID-19 Testing in Oregon’s K-12 Schools Program. Testing will help to quickly identify COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools, interrupt viral spread through households and in classrooms, reduce the risk for students and staff returning to in-person instruction, and may be used to shorten the length of quarantine for exposed individuals who test negative when recommended by the local public health authority.

For some students, COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools may represent their only access to a diagnostic COVID-19 test and the importance of this access cannot be overstated. Because both students and staff spend many hours at school on a typical day, it is possible that they may develop new symptoms such as fever or cough while at school. In addition, when a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, their cohorts (e.g., classroom, reading group, chess club) may be considered exposed and testing may be recommended by the local public health authority.

How long does it take to receive the BinaxNOW test kits?

7-10 business days after the registration form is submitted.

How often should students or staff who are presenting symptoms be tested?

The testing program is not serial or surveillance testing. It is only designed for students and staff who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while on campus or students and staff in exposed school cohorts (e.g., classrooms) when recommended by the local public health authority. OHA does have a Screening Testing Program available for K-12 schools.

What happens if our school runs out of BinaxNOW tests and needs to order more?

When your school has twenty (20) remaining BinaxNOW tests, the school should submit an email to schooltesting.covid@dhsoha.state.or.us to request new test kits. OHA will review your request and respond within 24 hours.

More frequently asked questions

Student Screening Program

Screening testing is testing for individuals without symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure to COVID-19. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA), in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) will offer free screening testing for COVID-19 to all Oregon K-12 students during the 2021-2022 academic year. Participating schools will have the option to offer students weekly screening for classroom cohorts (e.g., a second-grade classroom), extracurricular cohorts (e.g., a chess club or football team), or both. Because COVID-19 vaccines are very effective in reducing the risk of infection, the CDC recommends screening only in unvaccinated individuals. Schools may choose to verify vaccination status, but this is not required, and all interested K-12 schools and students are welcome to enroll, regardless of vaccination status.

Participation will be voluntary, and schools and families can opt-out at any time. The program will be administered by regional laboratory partners and details will vary by region.

Participation in the program and all results are confidential, however, positive COVID-19 results must be reported to the local public health authority for case investigation and contact tracing.

Staff Screening Program

Oregon Health Authority is launching a free COVID-19 testing project for K-12 staff in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools. This project offers free weekly screening testing by mail to any unvaccinated public or private K-12 staff. Testing is not recommended for vaccinated K-12 staff because the risk of COVID-19 in vaccinated individuals is very low. Participation is voluntary, and K-12 staff can opt-out at any time.

All testing will be mailed directly to the homes of K-12 staff and will be confidential. The COVID-19 test will be performed at home by gently swabbing just inside the nose. The swab is then returned to the laboratory by mail and results are returned to participants within days. To participate in this staff screening project, please complete the enrollment form found here.

Following enrollment, you will be sent an email by our laboratory partner to complete the registration process.

Events

8/31 Webinar: Administering Diagnostic and Screening Tests in K-12 Schools

The Oregon Health Authority is offering an informational webinar on the Diagnostic and Screening Testing Programs available to K-12 school during the 2021-2022 school year. Jamekaa Baker-Flowers, School Testing Coordinator and Staci Calkins, School Testing Coordinator will co-present and moderate.

Flyer - EnglishFlyer - SpanishWatch the recording

Contact us

Diagnostic Testing Program

Jamekaa Baker-Flowers
503-457-8553
schooltesting.covid@dhsoha.state.or.us

Student Screening Program

Staci Calkins
971-393-3849
COVIDScreening.Schools@dhsoha.state.or.us

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