COVID-19 Testing in K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for COVID-19 prevention in Schools and Childcare Programs outlines recommended testing, vaccination, and mitigation strategies to help keep children, students, educators, and staff healthy. Schools and Child Care COVID-19: Best Practice Recommendations and Case Reporting provides instructions for COVID-19 case reporting in pre-K through grade 12 school and child care programs and approaches to promote health and safety while mitigating COVID-19 transmission risk. The state is working to ensure children, students, and staff have the resources they need to access COVID-19 testing. This page provides information on state-provided test kits and resources for schools and child care programs interested in developing their own on-site testing program.
School and child care program testing options
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the federal government offer COVID-19 tests to schools and child care programs to increase access to testing for Minnesota's children and educators. The CDC provides additional information on the value of COVID-19 testing, at What to Know About COVID-19 Testing in Schools.
The State of Minnesota is providing at-home test kits to K-12 schools for use by staff, students, children, and their families. Fulfillment of test orders depends on available supply. MDH does not guarantee test orders will be fulfilled. K-12 schools may also participate in the CDC Operation Expanded Testing program.
COVID-19 test options for K-12 schools and child care programs
- Available for schools and child care programs.
- Tests are available for students ages 2 years and older, staff, and families.
- These individual rapid antigen test kits contain two tests and each kit is intended for a single student, child, or staff person to use at home.
- Schools and child care programs should encourage students, children, and staff who receive tests to carefully review and follow the manufacturer instructions included with the test.
- This program is available to schools and child care programs. Additional program details and information are available at the link above.
- This program tests pooled PCR nasal swab or saliva samples and can be a useful screening tool to identify asymptomatic cases.
Resources for setting up alternative testing programs
In addition to the testing options listed above, schools and child care programs may be able to use the State Master Contract Program. This program contains options for testing services, including pop-up testing; testing in schools; at-home testing; bulk ordering of testing kits; lab processing for tests; and test reporting services. More information is available at COVID-19 Testing Master Contract Program.
Schools and child care programs that are interested in setting up their own testing programs or initiatives may want to consider the planning resources below to help with test program development, implementation, and communication with staff, students, children, and families. Note that MDH did not participate in the drafting or development of these external resources, and the links below should not be construed as a formal MDH endorsement or guarantee of accuracy.
External program planning, development, and communication resources
- Open and Safe Schools: School COVID-19 Testing Toolkit
- The Rockefeller Foundation: Covid-19 Testing in K-12 Settings: A Playbook for Educators and Leaders
- CDC: School Testing for COVID-19: Communication Toolkit for Schools
A Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification or Certificate of Waiver is required when a school or child care program chooses to administer COVID-19 testing or to assist with interpreting COVID-19 test results, even when the test is designated for over-the-counter use. For more information, visit Minnesota Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA).
Reporting of cases and test results
Minnesota law creates reporting obligations for any school or child care program that learns of a COVID-19 case, regardless of where the case is identified (i.e., on-site testing, at home testing, or testing performed by an external test site or health care provider). Refer to Schools and Child Care COVID-19: Best Practice Recommendations and Case Reporting for more information.
Federal law also requires CLIA-certified or CLIA-waived on-site testing programs to report certain COVID-19 test results and related information. Please refer to COVID-19 Test Reporting Requirements for details on these laboratory reporting requirements.