About Us

The SOS Pilot

Safely Opening Schools (SOS) is piloting rapid antigen testing in California school districts to support schools’ safer reopening. The project brings together CA educators and school health professionals to develop and share best practices for testing including testing all on-site students and staff up to twice weekly using Abbott’s BinaxNOW rapid antigen test.

The SOS goal is to implement a routine rapid antigen testing model with California elementary schools that supports their reopening during the pandemic. SOS will share and document key learnings as well as disseminate tools and resources.

SOS Implementation

Eleven districts are participating in the SOS learning collaborative including completing SOS training, implementing the twice-weekly rapid antigen testing model with staff and students, taking part in an evaluation, and sharing their learnings with other districts. 

  • Week 0: Districts identify their SOS team, attend a kick-off meeting, and complete registration materials.
  • Week 1: Districts begin training, set up data platform with Primary.Health, and reach out to parent community for consent.
  • Week 2: Districts begin testing onsite staff and teachers, refining their testing process and flow. 
  • Week 3: Districts expand testing to include students. 
  • Week 4-8:  District works to ramp up testing so that all onsite students and staff are tested weekly

SOS Team


SOS Partners

SOS is a program of the Public Health Institute, working in close coordination with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), participating school districts, and in dialogue with unions and parents.

    SOS is partnering with Primary.Health, a top pioneering software solution for COVID-19 testing, to implement the pilot, record, process and report  testing results, and administer the data.

      Major funding for SOS comes from The California Endowment. Additional support is provided from the Ballmer Group and others through PHI’s Together Toward Health Initiative which manages a large pooled fund from a group of philanthropic organizations engaged in a pandemic response.

        SOS, in collaboration with CDPH’s state public health laboratory team, is the go-to resource for key information on rapid antigen testing for COVID-19 for other school districts looking to reopen more safely in California.


          SOS is partnering with Primary.Health, a top pioneering software solution for COVID-19 testing and vaccination, to implement the pilot, register participants, manage onsite workflows, automate reporting, and provide data analytics and dashboards to identify trends, measure program performance, and inform health equity strategies.  

          With SOS, Primary provides school districts the tools and trainings they need to stand up their rapid testing programs, administer tests and log results, report results to public health officials, and notify participants of their test results. 

          Download Primary’s one-pager for schools

          Commitment to Racial & Health Equity

          SOS is committed to advancing racial equity in health and education across California, and will prioritize pilots where reopening is most urgent, i.e. schools serving: large numbers of children of essential workers; predominantly Black and Latino communities hardest hit by COVID-19; students requiring special education and other special needs; and those not doing well with remote learning.

          The California Healthy Places Index

          Click the map to visit the California Healthy Places Index website

          © 2021 Safely Opening Schools. All rights reserved. Site design by Doug Rider Consulting.
          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.