Covid-19 Testing

Testing is important because many people have COVID-19 infections but never develop symptoms, and even those who do become ill may be infectious – that is able to spread the virus – even for days before they show signs of illness.


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.

Do I have Covid-19?

Have I had Covid-19?

PCR Testing

PCR tests or polymerase chain reaction tests are the most widely used for detecting COVID-19. A PCR generally must be performed in a qualified laboratory, costs between $35-$120 or more, and can take up to 5 days to get results depending on transportation, demand and laboratory turnaround. 

Because PCR tests are more expensive, and their results are not immediately available, they can be less appropriate for screening in the school setting where ideally you could immediate identify and isolate someone who is infected

Rapid Antigen Tests

Rapid antigen tests also indicate whether someone is currently infected. These can be performed and read very quickly, for example 15 minutes, and do not require specialized  personnel. They are only slightly more complicated than a home pregnancy test.  

SOS is using the Abbot BinaxNOW test, one of the more recent rapid antigen tests and one which has high accuracy (what is called sensitivity and specificity), making it feasible and appropriate for screening large numbers of people once or twice a week to detect infection.

Read more about what to expect for implementing onsite screening.

Anitbody Tests

Antibody tests indicate whether or not a person has already had a COVID-19 infection.

Additional Covid-19 Resources