Science Education Department

Washington State School-Based COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program

School districts and Seattle Children’s are collaborating to keep staff and students healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seattle Children’s is performing rapid COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic staff and students with the support of school district personnel who are trained and monitored by Seattle Children’s. Project oversight is provided by Seattle Children’s Research Institute under CLIA # 50D1049793 (Lisa M. Frenkel, MD, CLIA Lab Director).

A Public Health Approach

The addition of routine school-based testing to existing infection-control measures can help maintain a safe, healthy environment for in-person learning by reducing opportunities for transmission. The recent introduction of COVID-19 vaccines provides yet another layer of protection for those who receive them; however, we still do not know whether being vaccinated prevents you from being able to carry and transmit the virus to others. Since children and youth will not receive vaccines during this school year, it will be critical for staff to continue participating in assurance testing after they have received their vaccines. In fact, masking, distancing, and hand hygiene will remain essential until the virus is no longer a threat to our communities.

Strategy

Seattle Children’s, local health departments, and educational leaders are launching the Washington State School-Based COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program. The program aims to reduce the risk of in-school COVID-19 transmission and bolster confidence that in-person learning can be done safely. The program is modeled after similar public health initiatives launched in Texas and Pennsylvania. The program uses point-of-care rapid antigen test cards and molecular amplification technology to support surveillance or “assurance” testing, which tests staff and select groups of students routinely to detect asymptomatic cases. In some cases, symptomatic testing, for those who come to school feeling well but develop symptoms during the school day, may also be performed. Both approaches meet a critical public health goal of identifying those with COVID-19—particularly those at greatest risk of transmitting to others because they are unaware that they may be contagious—so that they can be isolated and quarantine immediately.

Training and Technical Assistance

Seattle Children’s is guiding the implementation of this program in participating school districts across Western Washington, using a “train the trainer” model to create sustainable programming within the schools.

Certification Process

There are three steps for becoming certified to run the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card test, a rapid antigen test:

  1. Watch the BinaxNOW Training Video.
  2. Complete the Online Assessment.
  3. Participate in an In-Person Skill Validation, arranged in coordination with your school district and Seattle Children’s.

There are two steps for becoming certified to run the Cue COVID-19 Test, a confirmatory nucleic acid amplification test, if applicable:

  1. Watch the Cue Training Video (coming soon).
  2. Participate in an In-Person Skill Validation, arranged in coordination with your school district and Seattle Children’s.

Support for WA Rapid Test Application

In addition to training, Seattle Children’s is offering implementation support and technical assistance for using an online data reporting solution developed for this school-based testing program.

Detailed instructions obtaining a WA Rapid Test App account for test operators and registration for school-based testing sites will be arranged in coordination with your school district and Seattle Children’s.

    Resources

    Project Leads

    Funding

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card tests and Cue COVID-19 Tests.

    Program Contact

    You may contact the Project Team at schoolcovidtesting@seattlechildrens.org.

    Next Steps

    We will update this page regularly to reflect the latest developments.

    This page was last updated in February 2021.