Safely Opening Schools

California Department of Public Health: Bulletin 1

Released April 5, 2022

For the most recent updates regarding the California K-12 School Antigen Testing Program, please subscribe to the California Department of Public Health newsletter. 

For schools enrolled in the Heluna Health rapid antigen testing program, please refer to the Los Angeles County Bulletin.


Testing is still an important Public Health tool

What’s coming next? While the Omicron surge has declined dramatically, over 1,000 Americans are still dying daily from COVID-19. Europe is in the midst of a second Omicron surge fueled by the even more infectious (though not more severe) Omicron BA.2 variant, which is now becoming dominant in the US. US wastewater monitoring is also suggesting rising COVID-19 again, and some states are seeing rising rates. While it is unclear how significant any increase will be, it is not the time to decrease readiness or testing.

  • In most California schools, masks are now strongly recommended. Testing continues to be a key public health tool to stop the spread in schools, and out to households and the community.
    • COVID hasn’t stopped, why stop free testing flyer (linked below) 

At-home tests: More than 10 million at-home rapid tests are being distributed by FEMA and County Offices of Education to allow families to test before gatherings during Spring Break, and before return-to-school. Coordinating with families to input at-home test results on Primary.Health helps with data tracking and community-awareness of COVID-19 spread.

If your school has not heard about when to expect the tests contact your County Office of Education.

Please see below for example


How to offer vaccines and host vaccination events

Vaccination, especially of 5-11 year olds, is still too low. Pop-up vaccination events can be scheduled in collaboration with the Department of Public Health, at no cost to the district. Click here for detailed information or email to set up a pop-up event for your school!

  • CDPH will:
    • Make available to all K-12 schools (including private and charter) 
    • Cover all costs 
  • Schools/districts will:
    • Complete an interest survey to be matched with a vendor (who will then coordinate date and location) 
    • Coordinate community outreach to get students (and community members) to attend pop-up vaccine clinic

Timeline to plan vaccine events

  • School/districts will (continued)
    • Promote your vaccine event (and vaccinations in general) to your school community
  •  Vaccination Importance flyer examples below
Community support

Community Forums

SOS is available to provide a community forum (virtually or in person) to meet the custom needs of your district to engage families to consent, and to answer questions about testing and vaccinations by healthcare professionals. Burton Unified School District invited SOS to present at a virtual community forum to district families about testing at school and the importance of vaccinations (see flyer below for reference). More than 50 families attended the bilingual zoom event.

From a district administrator: “Our partnership with the SOS team has greatly supported our district. And we appreciate the continued support.” Contact (provide relevant info) to coordinate a community event for your district families.

District Spotlight

Santa Barbara Unified School District

Santa Barbara Unified School District employed various testing models with its student body. Throughout the course of this school year, they have done regular surveillance testing with elementary students and random screening of 10-20% of the secondary students. With a high consent rate among the student body – including by students age 13 and older – SBUSD is able to use regular testing to maintain lower COVID-19 in-school transmission. SBUSD reported that staff vaccination exceeds 95%, and the district has partnered with the local Department of Public Health to offer vaccine clinics!

Flyers created by SBUSD below  


5-11 Year Olds Fully Vaccinated

California School Districts offering rapid testing


12-17 Year Olds Fully Vaccinated

Million tests administered in K-12 schools since January 2021

Contact Us


School Hours: Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm

Data reflects testing and cases reported by school districts on the Primary.Health platform and the California Department of Public Health state dashboard.

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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.