Negative COVID-19 test results are the latest must-haves for kids returning to school

Even though it’s January, the back-to-school excitement that normally fills the Colorado fall air is palpable for kids and families.

With many schools and districts reopening to in-person learning following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the fall, students throughout Colorado are getting themselves ready to head back to school with all the supplies needed to succeed during a global pandemic: Backpack? Check. Calculator? Check. COVID-19 test? Double-check, thanks to a new saliva-based PCR test offered through COVIDCheck Colorado

That’s right, this year, the latest must-have for back-to-school includes a negative COVID-19 test result in an effort to keep students and staff as safe and healthy as possible. 

“In addition to masks, hand-washing, and social distancing, saliva-based COVID-19 testing is one of the most critical tools for students and staff to have as they return to school,” said Mike Johnston, CEO of Gary Community Investments. 

“Until the vaccine is available to all Coloradans, regular testing within school communities can give educators and families peace of mind knowing that potential outbreaks are being stopped before they have a chance to spread and disrupt the in-person teaching and learning we know our kids need,” Johnston continued.

Through COVIDCheck Colorado, the social benefit enterprise of Gary Community Investments, students can now access free, fast, and reliable COVID-19 tests just as many of their teachers did when schools first opened last fall. But now, testing is easier and more accessible, and getting results is even faster than ever with saliva-based testing.

Once a student has taken an initial baseline test, they can participate in ongoing screening testing directly on school campuses, thanks to an expanded partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which is funding the use of an FDA-EUA approved PCR test protocol known as SalivaDirect™. 

“As the State works to provide schools and districts with a variety of tools and resources to get kids back to school in person, we couldn’t be more grateful for their support as we work to make it easier for our school-based partners to access the highest quality tests available,” said Johnston.

Instead of receiving the more uncomfortable nasal swab, students can provide a small saliva sample under the supervision of a medical professional or other designated staff member who has been trained by a school nurse to observe collection. 

All students and school-based staff are eligible to participate in ongoing testing regardless of whether they have symptoms or a known exposure to the virus. The results, which have a 94.5 accuracy rate are delivered in 24-48 hours or less.

Currently, Clayton Early Learning, Cherry Creek Schools, Boulder Valley School District, The Academy of Charter Schools, and Mapleton Public Schools, have all started offering SalivaDirect™ testing to students,  while many other districts have expressed interest. Families looking to sign their child up for testing can expect to receive communications directly from their school or district if and when access to testing becomes available. 

In addition to building partnerships with schools and districts, COVIDCheck Colorado continues to be available for all members of the broader community to access free and reliable testing at any of its test sites across Colorado.

9Health is working with COVIDCheck Colorado to help with COVID-19 testing. Click/tap here to find a testing location near you.