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Oregon schools can opt-in to a number of COVID testing programs with Oregon Health Authority

More than 90% of Oregon schools opted into the program for last school year but must opt-in once more to utilize the programs this year.
Credit: Fabio Balbi - stock.adobe.com
Covid-19 test tube in hospital laboratory close up

PORTLAND, Ore. — Schools in Oregon can opt-in to a number of COVID-19 testing programs through Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in partnership with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).

A news release sent Wednesday outlined the many options schools could enroll in:

  • Diagnostic testing: For students or staff with symptoms of COVID-19 or an exposure to COVID-19, the program uses Abbott BinaxNOW rapid testing kits. This essential access to free testing can help diagnose COVID-19 infection early and, when recommended by the local public health authority, may shorten the duration of quarantine for exposed students.
  • Weekly screening testing for unvaccinated K-12 staff: Staff may opt in to this program. These tests are self-collected at home and sent to a regional laboratory for processing. Testing is confidential and enrollment forms can be found here.
  • Weekly screening testing of unvaccinated students[i]: Schools must opt in to the program. Then, households may opt in through their schools for testing performed in collaboration with a regional laboratory partner. Program details vary by region and school.

More information about the steps that schools are taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 can be found in the Ready Schools Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 2021-22 School Year, which was released in June 2021.

RELATED: Immunocompromised teachers speak out about lack of remote teaching options

“Screening offers an additional layer of protection to help keep Oregon’s students learning in-person,” said Melissa Sutton, medical director of respiratory viral pathogens and senior health advisor at OHA. “Screening can identify asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases early —and help stop transmission within the school setting.”

During a press conference Tuesday, Multnomah County health officials asked that families with students in the school system limit their social interactions to mitigate any risk of bringing COVID-19 into the school system. They most middle and high schools had the capability to test anyone with symptoms with a rapid antigen test.

“These programs offer yet another opportunity for school communities to work together to ensure our students return to in-person learning with as many health and safety protections as possible,” said ODE Director Colt Gill.

More than 90% of Oregon schools registered for the free diagnostic testing program for the last school year. However, schools must re-register in order to utilize the program for the upcoming school year. For more details on testing and testing options for students, teachers and staff, please visit here. You may also go to the Oregon's COVID-19 Testing in K-12 schools web page.

RELATED: Multnomah County asking parents, staff and health agencies to work together to protect kids in school

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