California Schools



CDPH Schools

California School

K-12 Antigen Testing Program

Through the 2021-2022 school year, the California Department of Public Health supported schools by implementing a robust testing program to reduce community transmission in schools. Over 800 schools districts across the State of California were eligible to receive support from the state to implement testing if they met the following criteria: rurality, size of student population, access to free and reduced lunch, vaccination rate among 5-17 year olds, community vulnerability in reference to the Healthy Places Index, and the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index. Through the K-12 School Antigen Testing Program, school administrators were given the option to take direct funding to stand up their own testing program by employing testing administrators or opt into the End-to-End Services program. Through the End-to-End Services program, schools were assigned a testing vendor to provide testing services at their schools to include: students and staff.

How To Register for COVID-19 Testing at your School

The integration of testing in schools is new for many,  Safely Opening Schools is available for ongoing support and sharing best practices learned from the SOS pilot.


Submit the California Department of Public Health K-12 School’s Rapid Antigen Testing Program interest form.


Attend the one-hour FAQ meeting with the California Department of Public Health.


Sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and submit an order for your school’s test kits.


Attend the Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen test training, see registration links here.


Complete the California Department of Public Health rapid antigen test competency quiz.


Attend the Primary.Health software training, see registration links here.

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Supplemental Guide to Videos

COVID-19 Testing Videos (links to videos forthcoming)

  • Conducting Professional COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests at Schools
  •  Inventory and Communication for COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Testing at Schools

Your School is now a Laboratory

CLIA Waiver

Federal and state law requires that testing sites obtain a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) waiver in order to process the results at school sites instead of a laboratory. The California Department of Public Health is offering an umbrella CLIA waiver for schools and other types of facilities such as Homeless Shelters or Daycare Centers.


Trainees do not need to be health professionals to implement this test. The California Department of Public Health has determined that school personnel “who are caring for students under their responsibility” are authorized to carry out this test. However, school nurses or other health professionals provide valuable oversight and are encouraged to participate.

Data Platforms

A data platform is essential to support large scale testing. Key functions for a data platform, include: participant registration, recording test results, notifying individuals or parents of their test results, and providing the school district with a useful dashboard with which to understand findings and manage the process.

Participant Consent

Communicating about rapid antigen testing in schools is important in the success of your testing program. Prepare to communicate with your school community by engaging with your school staff, students, and family members via your school’s preferred communication outlet such as ParentSquare or Back to School Night.

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The Calfornia Department of Public Health released a draft copy of the Playbook for schools.

Additional Tools and Resources for Testing in Schools

Use our Rise Online-Training Platform

  • Rise is an online training platform that outlines the CDPH Playbook, as well as a series of simple and accessible lessons for people who are being trained to implement rapid testing. Rise can also allow a site administrator track who has completed their training. Contact to get access on the Rise Platform.
Video Trainings Available Online
  • Abbot BinaxNOW Training modules 1 – 4 (11 minutes)
  • Training for reading equivocal tests for all participants who will be reading or registering test results (8 minutes)
  • HIPAA training (15 minutes) – only for those without certification for screening and test administrators who do not have a HIPAA certificate, you can receive one online after going through the online training course. There are a number of resources for HIPAA Training, for example this training with Accountable.
  • Donning PPE (4 minutes)
  • Doffing PPE (4 minutes)
Other key training materials
CLIA Waiver
To apply for your own waiver, you will need to follow the steps below:

  • Identify a physician or clinical laboratory director who will act as your CLIA Director.
  • Complete and submit the paperwork. Forms are all available on the CDPH website here.  They are submitted as uploaded attachments to the online application. You will need:
    • The new online waiver application 
    • The Federal CMS 116 completed by the CLIA Director 
    • The state LAB 183 form an attestation completed by the CLIA Director and the 
    • The state LAB182 attestation completed by the organization that will be testing. 
    • A full list of the sites where you plan to do the testing
  • Pay the fees
    • The state fee to submit the CLIA application is $113 payable plus $26 per testing site payable to CDPH at the time of application.
    • The Federal fee is approximately $150 and will be invoiced later.
    • Note: The site can start testing once the waiver request is submitted!
  • Issue a standing order for testing: Have your CLIA Director or another physician  issue a standing order for testing with the selected test at your institution.  See an example here.
Additional Resources

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Safely Opening Schools is a project of the Public Health Institute, (PHI) PHI has been a leader in public health and development for over 50 years. PHI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a vision of creating healthy communities where individuals reach their highest potential. Safely Opening Schools is part of PHIs Prevention Policy Group, which works on policy approaches involved in safely opening public schools after Covid-19.