Frequently Asked Questions



Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can any CA school district conduct rapid antigen testing?

A: Any CA school district can make rapid antigen testing part of the COVID-19 response. To learn more contact the California Department of Public health at

Q: Where do I get the rapid antigen tests for my district?

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is supplying CA school districts with Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests while the state’s supply lasts. If you are a school already enrolled in the CDPH Testing Program, you can submit an order online. Tests can also be purchased on the private market if available.

Q: How do I get started?

A: Visit our Get Started page for outlined instructions on how-to begin testing at your school.

Q: What is a CLIA waiver?

The type of COVID-19 rapid antigen testing being used for this pilot was approved by the FDA with an Emergency Use Authorization that requires a CLIA waiver. A CLIA waiver assures that there is appropriate supervision by a physician or laboratory director. While a rapid antigen test is very simple to use and does not require highly qualified laboratory personnel, it does have to be carried out under the supervision of an eligible health or laboratory professional. To explore starting a testing program under the California Department of Public Health CLIA please email to schedule a run through of the enrollment process.  

Q: What training is required to implement rapid antigen testing at my school district?

A: We recommend training on the following: use of the specific rapid test you employ; the data platform you select to report results to the state; how to set up and manage a testing site; and a series of videos that cover privacy protections and how to use personal protective equipment correctly. See our suggested Training Resources on our Get Started page.

Q: I do not have a clinical background, can I still perform the test?

A: Personnel who are authorized under BPC Section 1206.5(a) to perform waived COVID-19 testing at school sites which include: physician and surgeon, physician assistant, registered nurse, license vocational nurse and other healthcare personnel providing direct patient care. This includes school personnel who are caring for students under their responsibility. 

Q: How do I get the right PPE for my school district?

A: Most schools already have available PPE. You will need KN95 or surgical masks, gloves, and visors. It is advisable to have some gowns and N95 masks on hand if a health professional needs to actively swab someone who cannot self-swab. N95s can also be used for observing self-swabbing though they are not required.  Staff members using N95s should receive fit testing for their masks.

Q: What other options are there?

A: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are widely used across CA. However, PCR results generally take 1-3 days which means screened individuals who are infectious can still expose others to infection until the result is available. PCR tests are also more sensitive than rapid antigen tests, sometimes detecting the virus in persons who have had COVID-19 recently but are no longer infectious. PCR tests are more expensive, although districts have been successfully billing insurance for staff and teachers to-date. 

Q: Do I have to use the statewide CLIA?

A: No. You can choose to apply for your own CLIA, steps on how-to do so can be found on the CDPH Website.

Q: What is Primary.Health?

A: Primary.Health is the data platform where test results are uploaded and shared with parents.

Q: I received a positive test result, what now?

A: If you received a positive point-of-care test, refer to your local health department for appropriate COVID-19 guidelines and procedures.

Q: Must I get a confirmatory PCR test following a positive antigen test?

A: It is highly recommended to confirm a point-of-care test with a PCR test.

Q: Who pays for the test kits and the software used for testing?

A: The California Department of Public Health is currently covering costs for the Abbott BinaxNOW tests and Primary.Health, the data platform used to record test results.

Q: I cannot access my test results. Who should I contact?

A: If you are having issues with accessing your results on Primary.Health, contact for assistance.

Q: Can the state pay for allocated staff or contractors for testing?

A: New federal funding is available for many school districts for the 2021-22 school year that can help with personnel costs or with providing outside service providers to come test. High needs district are getting first priority. The California Department of Public Health is administering this funding. Reach out to for more information. SOS can also help to provide information but does not manage the funds, you can contact for support.

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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.