Safely Opening Schools

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Safely Opening Schools’ goal is to assist in assuring that schools can remain safely open for learning by helping scale up the use of COVID-19 rapid antigen testing and by promoting  policies and practices that increase vaccination and reduce inequities. SOS started with a 10 district learning collaborative in a diverse group of California  schools serving historically marginalized communities, and now works to spread those lessons statewide. SOS works in close partnership with the California Department of Public Health K-12 Rapid Testing Program.

Our Impact

See all Safely Opening Schools Impacts

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  • 27k rapid tests conducted at schools by the SOS program, from January through mid-July 2021
  • 90% of parents say rapid testing helps them feel more confident about a return to in-person instruction
  • 87% of parents say that rapid testing at school helps keep their family safe


Completed Projects

ELC Rapid Testing Support

The objective of the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (ELC) Rapid Testing Support award is to assist in on-boarding and scaling up use of rapid testing in California K-12 schools for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school. The grant provides technical assistance and training to school districts that are beginning testing to successfully develop and execute their screening testing implementation plan; works to integrate new state contracted testing vendors across the state more successfully with districts, and to troubleshoot vendor performance issues as needed. It also develops new educational materials and tools to support the rapid testing program. The program prioritizes high needs districts.

ELC Reopening Schools

The objective of the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (ELC) Reopening Schools award is to support The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Heluna Health in start-up of rapid COVID-19 testing for Los Angeles County K-12 schools for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. This ELC Reopening Schools award has two key activities: 1. Development of training curricula specific to Los Angeles County; and 2. Remote and onsite training of Los Angeles Schools for implementation of rapid testing.

Safely Opening Schools

The Safely Opening Schools project began by creating a learning collaborative rapid antigen testing in 10 California School districts in winter and Spring 2021 working with the California Department of Public Health. The collaborative developed approaches to implementation, assessed reliability, increased acceptance, and identified and advocated for resolution of key barriers to scale-up for broader use. Since Spring 2021 SOS has collaborated in the scale up of rapid testing statewide, which has increased logarithmically since summer. It is also addressing other barriers to schools remaining safely open including supporting vaccine education and availability especially for students of color and vaccine policy and practices to increase uptake.

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