our goal

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools and facilitate safer reopening, Safely Opening Schools (SOS)  will support the pilot implementation of regular (1 to 2 times per week) screening using rapid antigen testing of teachers, staff and students at California elementary and middle schools in 5-10  districts. It will seek to develop a model of clear and easy to follow methods and evaluate feasibility and effectiveness, to support the state’s intent to reopen schools more broadly in spring.  SOS  is working in close coordination with the California Department of Public Health, local health departments and school districts. The effort will build on other pilots occurring nationally and in Los Angeles. We will also seek to be resource for key information on testing for COVID-19 for other school districts looking to reopen more safely.


Support for safer reopening is most urgent in schools serving large numbers of children of essential workers, from heavily Black and Latino communities hardest hit by COVID-19, special education and other special needs students, and those not doing well with remote learning.

Many California schools are already partially open to some students and we need to immediately make them as safe as possible, while creating a model for safer expanded reopening in the coming months. Up to nine school districts that reflect the diversity of the state are currently under evaluation and are located in Los Angeles County in the South, Merced County in the rural Central Valley, and San Mateo County in the Bay Area.  Initial focus will be on K-5 because many in this age group are not doing as well with remote learning and may have additional parental needs.

Our Methods

Implement once to twice weekly screening of all on-site students and staff, in schools where at least some students are on site, at least initially using rapid antigen tests which can be immediately read on-site. Staff involved may include central office staff preparing student and staff data with appropriate agreements, school nurse, other personnel carrying out testing under supervision, health center or added staff carrying out screening and data entry with appropriate training and protective equipment. Currently in California each district requires its own CLIA waiver. creating additional complexity.  We will work with a data system provider which can facilitate management in the school setting and electronic lab reporting.  We envision an 8-week initial pilot and if successful, encouraging the state to scale up the approach over the spring to support reopening until the pandemic is controlled.   Selected pilot areas would receive a commitment to participating districts to continue to support the participating schools through the end of the school year so as not to create a working system and then shut it down. Testing would also be available to symptomatic staff, teachers and students.

•       Week 1: Training, data setup, and consent acquisition

•       Week 2: Screening of staff and teachers, continue consent process

•       Week 3: Screening of high-risk students currently on-site biweekly

•       Week 4-8: Expand student attendance gradually and test biweekly

•       Weeks 2-8: Testing of symptomatic individuals available on-site

•       Weeks 4-10: Evaluation

•       Weeks 8 to end of semester – Ongoing support for implementation at pilot sites and dissemination of findings

Our Partners

Partners involved to date include the California Department of Public Health which is providing technical oversight; Interested districts; the Public Health Institute, as intermediary for the funds and supporting implementation and evaluation; foundations including the California Endowment, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, the Ballmer Group, and others providing resources needed to implement the pilot; unions, and parent representatives.  In schools with school-based health centers we may also include those centers.  The program is part of the broader Together for Health Initiative of PHI which manages a large pooled fund from group of philanthropic organizations engaged in a pandemic response.


Students or staff who test positive and are not symptomatic would be referred for confirmatory PCR testing and sent home to isolate until confirmatory results are available. Those who are symptomatic would go home to isolation. Other students/teachers in the affected cohort would need to quarantine at home at least until the confirmatory test is available for an asymptomatic, and get tested with PCR. If the confirmatory test for an asymptomatic person is negative, they can return.  All positive cases would also be referred for contact tracing.


Qualitative information on parent, staff and teacher confidence in safety of school reopening and in the testing process, as well as feedback on the process itself will  be assessed. Pilot sites will be evaluated to examine issues including teacher and staff absenteeism for COVID, number of students reported ill or unable to attend school, COVID spread within and across school learning settings, and feasibility, compared to schools with similar conditions of community transmission and reopening where testing is not yet implemented.


After School programs


Years Established

Get In Touch

Location: 1243 Divi St., San Francisco, CA 92421

Telephone: (435) 123-3566

Email: hello@divi.edu

School Hours: M-F: 8am – 3pm

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