Screening for COVID-19 infection to prevent transmission in schools is important because many people have COVID-19 infections but never develop symptoms, and even those who do become ill may be infectious – that means they are able to spread the virus – for days before they show signs of illness. This is especially true for young children.
There are three main groups of tests for COVID-19. Two types will tell you if you currently have an infection. One type, antibody testing, will tell you if you already had a COVID-19 infection.
Rapid Antigen Testing
Rapid antigen tests also indicate whether someone is currently infected. These tests can be performed by non-medical personnel and return results in 15- 30 minutes. Antigen tests are only slightly more complicated than a home pregnancy test.
SOS is using the Abbott BinaxNOW test, a rapid antigen test with high accuracy, making it feasible and appropriate for screening large numbers of people once or twice a week to detect infection.
Though rapid antigen tests detect slightly fewer infected persons than PCR tests, the quick results allow the school to take prompt action to isolate infected and exposed members of the school community. In some cases a rapid antigen test should be followed by a PCR test, for example if someone has symptoms but tests negative, or if someone has no symptoms and tests positive.
There are currently three Rapid Antigen tests approved by the FDA that can be administred in schools without special machines: the Abbott BinaxNOW test, the Access Bio CareStart COVID19 Antigen Test, and Quidel’s Quickvue SARS Antigen Test. All three of these tests require what is called a CLIA waiver. One test is approved for home use.
Go to the FDA website to learn more about COVID19 Rapid Antigen Tests with FDA emergency use authorization.
© 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.