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Backgrounder: Biden administration announces additional actions to increase COVID-19 testing in schools and keep students safe


A top priority for the Biden administration from day one has been to reopen schools safely and keep them open. The administration has taken significant steps to get our students back to class – and it is working, with over 96% of school districts open full-time in person for all students this fall.

We know how to keep students safe in schools by taking the right steps to prevent or reduce transmission in schools, including immunizing eligible staff and students, implementing universal indoor masking, maintaining physical distance, improving ventilation and performing regular screening tests on students and school staff. Schools should systematically implement science-based prevention strategies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) so that they can remain open to in-person learning and maintain the health and safety of all. students, staff and families.

As part of President Biden’s COVID-19 action plan announced in September, the administration called on all schools to implement regular in-school testing for students, teachers and staff in accordance with CDC guidelines . The administration has provided $ 10 billion in funding for COVID-19 testing for teachers, staff, and students at K-12 schools, in addition to the $ 130 billion provided to states and school districts that may also be used for testing. Screening tests are a critical strategy to identify positive cases of COVID-19 among students and staff and to ensure that K-12 schools can operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Administration has helped states and schools implement drug testing since allocating US Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to states last spring and today announces additional actions to help states, schools and school districts to establish testing programs in more schools:

  • ED and CDC Partner with Rockefeller Foundation to Speed ​​Up School Screening Tests for Students and Staff: The US Department of Education (ED) and CDC plan to partner with the Rockefeller Foundation to ensure all schools can access and set up testing programs as quickly as possible. This partnership will further expand the reach of federal and state partners by helping more school and district leaders navigate the establishment and ongoing operations of school testing programs. The Rockefeller Foundation has provided resources to schools for setting up testing programs since the early days of the pandemic – including piloting testing programs to gather information on how best to structure testing in K schools -12; establish a national program of action for K-12 testing to connect school leaders and parents with laboratories and manufacturers; and publish a textbook to offer step-by-step advice for designing and implementing effective testing programs in schools (resources are available on the Rockefeller Foundation website). ED, CDC and the Rockefeller Foundation will collaborate on initiatives to facilitate the implementation of testing by schools, including by:

    Maintain weekly ‘office hours’ to connect schools with national testing experts to set up and maintain testing programs: Starting November 2, ED, CDC and the Rockefeller Foundation will be hosting a learning network with sessions twice a week through December to help schools set up testing programs. The series will feature experts from the CDC, ED, and outside of the U.S. government to help schools develop and run a drug testing plan with trusted partners. Building on the CDC and ED’s existing commitment to providing technical assistance to schools, this new series is designed to help schools, wherever they are located, to set up education programs. test – from those just starting out to those looking to maintain or expand participation in their existing programs. The series will launch on November 2 and more details can be found on the Rockefeller Foundation website.

    Published a starter guide for schools on how to start testing programs: Today, the Rockefeller Foundation released a new one-page getting started guide that schools can use to start testing. This guide seeks to simplify the process by identifying the key steps schools need to take to initiate testing – and identifies the resources available to help schools navigate the process. This includes connecting to a test provider; learn about the different test options available; develop a plan and the team to administer the tests; communicate with parents about their consent and what the testing process will look like for their child; and planning how to isolate people who test positive during school hours. The guide is available on the Rockefeller Foundation website.

  • Additional staff are available to help state health departments coordinate school-based screening tests through the CDC Foundation: In addition to the resources already provided to states and school districts by the ARP, the CDC Foundation is making staff available to state health departments through the COVID Workforce Initiative to coordinate, run and scale up COVID testing -19 in school setting, contact case research / investigation and other public health activities. These staff can help take on roles such as leading the expansion of school-based testing, hire liaison officers to support local school districts, and deploy disease investigation specialists, case investigators and nurses to support. outbreak and case investigations. This additional support from the CDC Foundation can be obtained by contacting CDC at this link.
  • Directory of schools to identify a supplier and start testing: Today, the CDC launched a new directory and website to make it easy for schools to identify test providers in their state. The CDC has distributed $ 10 billion in ARP funding to help states launch drug testing programs in their schools. Most states have used this funding to set up centrally supported state contracts with testing providers, which makes it easier for schools to access established testing programs and supports underway in their state. . The directory will direct schools to the contracted provider (s) their state works with, the state’s home page for how to get started with the provider (s), and a point of contact with clear contact details for schools and districts to contact if they have questions.
  • Tips for School Districts on Providing Incentives for Parents and Guardians to Participate in Testing Programs: ED publishes fact sheet on how funding from ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund can be used to provide incentives to parents or guardians whose children participate in COVID testing -19 in a school environment. Strong school testing programs rely on strong school community participation to ensure they can identify and remove infected people from school before a COVID-19 infection can spread. The resource is available on the ED website.

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