Biden-Harris Administration Expands COVID-19 Testing Support for Schools
This week, amid record spikes in COVID-19 cases nationwide, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a series of actions to support full-time in-person instruction in K-12 schools. These actions include:
- Sending Five Million No-Cost Point-of-Care Tests Per Month to Schools – The Biden-Harris Administration will distribute five million free, rapid tests to schools each month to help schools stay open and to implement and sustain screening testing and test-to-stay programs. The new allocation builds upon the CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) program, and CDC will work with states who can submit request to receive additional tests for high-need school districts. The first shipments of tests are anticipated to be delivered later this month.
- Providing Five Million PCR Tests for Free to Schools Per Month – The Administration is making available additional laboratory capacity to support a five million PCT tests per month for schools to perform individual and pooled testing in classrooms nationwide. The additional testing will be delivered through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Operation Expanded Testing (ET) Program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Three federally funded regional providers will offer materials, supplies, and lab results and reporting at no direct cost to recipients through four regional hubs.
- Deploying Federal Surge Testing Units – HHS and FEMA are working with state, territorial, and tribal partners to address testing needs in communities and stand up federal testing sites. Sites are focused on ensuring hardest hit and highest-risk communities have equitable access to free and convenient testing. As federal agencies review COVID-19-related resource requests, agencies will consider how federal test sites can support the safe operation of K-12 schools.
- Connecting Schools with COVID-19 Testing Providers – ARPA, enacted by Congress in 2021, includes $130 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds to safely reopen schools which can be used to support school-based COVID-19 testing. The Department of Education and the CDC will work with states and outside organizations to make connections to testing providers in their state.
- New Training, Resources, and Materials for Implementing Test-to-Stay – The CDC last month implemented a “test-to-stay” approach for K-12 schools, allowing students to remain safely in the classroom during their quarantine period as long as they wear masks and test at least two times in the seven days following an exposure. CDC will release additional materials for schools on how to implement test-to-stay programs, including a school checklist and FAQs.
Additional information on these activities is available here.