Note: Recipient-submitted material; content authored by recipient, not ELC
Information current as of October 6, 2021

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To learn more about California’s school testing plans, visit their websiteexternal icon. Camps serving K–12 aged students that are interested in testing can submit requests onlineexternal icon.

Management structure for school screening

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) plays a critical role in managing activities related to this award. First, the CDPH maintains up to date guidance on detection and prevention of COVID-19 in K-12 schools. This includes maintaining an updated website with relevant guidance and playbooks to communicate and disseminate testing guidance and resources. The CDPH supports school districts with implementation of the latest public health guidance by providing a state-run PCR program and a statewide Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) lab director, CLIA waiver, and ordering physician for a state-run antigen testing schools program. Both programs include registration, onboarding, and training of school staff for testing. The CDPH also offers technical assistance in the form of office hours and responding to inquiries sent via email. The CDPH provides central support for testing by contracting with and managing vendors to provide test kits for schools, personnel to support school testing programs, software for registration, consenting, and reporting to participants, schools and public health, and testing strike teams to address outbreaks. Finally, the CDPH manages the process of providing direct funding support for school districts, including determining eligibility, conducting outreach, issuing funds, and tracking utilization, and monitoring ongoing reporting.

Support provided to school districts

CDPH and the Testing Task Force are supporting school districts’ implementation plans to detect, prevent, and control COVID-19 through provision of both operational and financial support for robust screening testing across all California schools. This support enables the adoption and maintenance of consistent testing programs for COVID-19 with support for expansion as required based on positivity rates and the presence of an outbreak.

This plan provides operational support to school’s implementation of consistent testing for COVID-19, including a weekly screening test cadence when community transmission rates are moderate, substantial, or high for unvaccinated students and for all unvaccinated staff at all community transmission rates.

Operational support is covered for multiple testing options including individual PCR, PCR pooling, and antigen testing. Within each of these three testing modalities, this plan provides support for the following components of the testing program:

  • Enhancing school outreach to enroll districts in testing programs
  • Streamlining intake, onboarding, and training processes
  • Setting up dedicated support services to provide school assistance in testing setup
  • Integrating with state data systems to enhance COVID-19 detection
  • Enabling rapid mobilization of state-run testing program in the event of an outbreak to support COVID-19 prevention and control

This plan increases the affordability of testing programs to enable screening at scale and to reduce the potential burden on school districts under the current state laboratory billing structure. This plan encourages districts to enroll schools in their jurisdiction for testing thereby enabling improved detection of COVID-19 positivity.

Financial support is provided across testing types as described below:

  • Supporting free individual PCR testing through the state lab
  • Supporting free state sponsored PCR pooling for schools
  • Providing free state sponsored antigen testing and confirmatory PCR
  • Providing free end to end vendors for testing support to select public schools and school districts on an equity basis
  • Providing personnel funding and initial training support to select public schools and school districts on an equity basis