Students and Staff COVID Testing

Jennifer E. Engen

Summary: Students and staff can take a COVID test at home and at their school.

Seattle Public Schools COVID Testing

Return to School After Spring Break COVID Testing

We strongly encourage testing before returning to school on Monday, April 18, to help ensure a healthy and safe return to in-person learning.  

Students and staff are getting a box of two iHealth COVID-19 rapid antigen tests. Tests should be taken on Sunday, April 17, or in the morning before school on Monday, April 18.    

If You Test Positive:   

  • Stay home for a minimum of 5 days and until your symptoms have significantly improved.    
  • Notify your school   

You do NOT need to report a negative result to your school.   

SPS also continues to encourage masking at school, especially after travel or a break. Thank you for keeping our school communities healthy. Have a wonderful spring break.  

  Watch an iHealth instructional video.

Spring Break iHealth Test FAQ

My student did not receive a test from their school. 

If your student did not receive a test, you are welcome to use another home COVID test. You can order free tests from the State Department of Health.

Is testing required to return to schools?  

No. While we encourage all students and staff to test prior to returning to school, testing is not required.  

I’d like more information about the iHealth test. 

You can find more detailed information about this particular test on the iHealth website.    

The expiration date on the box is soon. Is this test okay?  

As of Mar 29, the shelf life of iHealth tests with expiration dates on or before 2022-09-29 (YYYY-MM-DD) are extended for three months. Please visit the iHealth website for details or look up new expiration dates by lot numbers. 

On-demand COVID-19 Testing Consent Campaign

SPS is prepared to manage COVID-19 in our schools for the remainder of this school year. Our goals are to keep our school communities healthy and safe and ensure uninterrupted in-person learning.

As part of our outbreak response plan (created in consultation with Public Health) we are launching a new on-demand testing program throughout the district.

This new on-demand testing program will allow us to quickly respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases in classrooms or schools. For our outbreak response plan and on-demand testing program to be effective, we ask that families provide one-time consent for their child to be tested for COVID through the remainder of the school year.

This consent will apply to both:

  • The rapid antigen COVID testing that schools have been offering since January 2022
  • The new on-demand testing program provided by our testing partner CIC Health.

Each family will receive an email notification from CIC Health. The email address will be [email protected] Please click on the link in that email to fill out the consent form. See our FAQ below if you have questions about the CIC email and consent forms.

The online form is available in 10 languages. If you are not able to fill out the electronic form, please contact your school. They can provide a paper copy.

Please note this consent does not apply to the PCR diagnostic tests that are still available at your child’s school. If for some reason a PCR diagnostic test is needed the school will contact you individually for consent for this type of testing.

Please be aware that if your child is in a group or classroom with a suspected or confirmed outbreak and they do not test as part of the on-demand testing program, they will need to quarantine at home for 5 days. Test results will be received by email within 24 hours of each test.  It’s important to remember that in the outbreak response plan, there will be times when both required masking and testing are necessary to reduce COVID-19 spread and keep students in school. 

COVID-19 Testing Consent Campaign FAQ

Is this a phishing email?  

No, this is a valid email from our testing partner, CIC Health. The week of April 4-8, we are encouraging families to give one-time consent to COVID testing for the remainder of the year, so that we can respond quickly to potential outbreaks. Families received an email and a robocall explaining that they would be receiving a message from CIC Health.  

I have already consented to testing, do I need to consent again?  

If your child attends one of the pilot schools that started using CIC Health in February or March, you may have already consented and do not need to consent again.  

I have multiple children in SPS, but only received a link for one of them. How can I register my other child? 

Our apologies. You should have received a link for each child you have at SPS. Please register your additional child or children on this CIC form.

If you have any difficulties, please reach out to our support email. [email protected] 

I have not received an email from CIC Health or the link does not work

Please check your spam and junk folders, looking for the email address [email protected] If you still do not find it, you can consent for testing with this CIC form.

You can also reach out to our support email address [email protected] 

Is the on-demand testing rapid antigen test or PCR test (the email below states PCR consent is excluded, however the consent form from CIC Health mentions PCR testing explicitly.)? 

It depends on the situation. For testing a potential outbreak, the testing occurs over a 5-day period. The first test will be a rapid antigen test and the second test will be a PCR test.

Schools are also using rapid antigen testing for screening groups like athletes and performing arts students who are participating in high-risk (high-aerosolization) indoor activities.  

Our child has a current medical condition, the result of which is that it is not safe for him to be swabbed at school. Can we test our child outside of school and submit the negative result to avoid quarantine? 

Yes, a negative home test result can be submitted to the school to avoid quarantine when a student is unable to test at school. 

If we decide to test at home, will those tests be accepted as proof to avoid the 5-day quarantine? If not, why? 

Yes, a negative home test result can be submitted to the school to avoid quarantine when a student is unable to test at school. 

Would parents be notified prior to a student being tested through the on-demand testing service? 

Yes, when there is a need for on-demand testing, like for a potential outbreak, families will be notified by email in advance.  

How do I opt out of testing?  

If you do not want to consent to testing for your child or yourself, the good news is that you do not need to do anything. It’s an opt-in only. 

Could you please provide the privacy policy associated with this permission and data request? 

Here is information about the district privacy policy.  

Information about CIC’s privacy policy is embedded in the consent form (points 14-17):  

14. I understand that to ensure public health and safety and to control the spread of COVID-19, test results may be shared without my individual authorization. 

15. I understand test results will be disclosed to appropriate public health authorities, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the school/organization the test participant is attending or participating in, the testing contractor and processing laboratory, and as otherwise may be permitted or required by law. 

16. I understand that participation in testing may require the school to disclose individuals’ identities, demographic, and contact information from school records to the testing provider(s). Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), 34 CFR 99.30, I authorize the school to disclose such information pertaining to my student (or, for school employees, pertaining to me) as is required to participate in testing. 

17. I understand that follow-up diagnostic testing may require submission of protected health information (PHI) and other personally identifiable information of persons undergoing testing. To the extent that is the case, pursuant to 45 CFR 164.524(c)(3), I authorize and direct the testing provider to transmit such information to my student’s school, the Washington State Department of Health, and Atlas Genomics, LLC, or another collaborating lab. I further understand that such individually identifiable information may be disclosed to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and any other party as authorized under applicable law. 

About COVID Testing

Students and staff can take a COVID test:

At Home Testing: Seattle Public Schools is now accepting over the counter COVID-19 tests for students and staff. Families can order FREE at-home tests through the federal government and the State of Washington. iHealth Home Rapid Antigen Tests are also available at schools for home use. Schools may send these tests home with students before a break or an event like prom. IHealth instruction video.

Learn how to share test results with a school

At School Testing:  Rapid antigen testing is available at each school, and results are available usually within 15 minutes with parent/guardian consent. PCR testing is available at each school for students and staff who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and those results can take 24-72 hours based on demand. When needed, schools will also have our testing partner, CIC Health conduct on-demand screening testing for groups of students for students participating in such as athletics or performing arts and when outbreaks are suspected.

Due to the increased availability of home rapid antigen tests and low usage, SPS is closing our regional testing sites beginning on March 31. We are ready to redeploy support again if needed. 


Who is encouraged to test? 

  • Testing is free and insurance is not required.  You may be asked to provide insurance by the vendor.
  • All SPS students are encouraged to test if the have COVID-like symptoms or if there has been potential exposure
  • Testing is voluntary. 

If testing is free, why am I being asked for insurance?

If a student’s family has insurance, Curative, one of SPS’ testing providers, will attempt to charge their insurance or HRSA. Both testing providers, Curative and CIC Health, also have an agreement with the Washington State Department of Health to cover any tests that are not covered by insurance or HRSA. Some families may receive an Explanation of Benefits that looks like a bill, but rest-assured that there will never be a cost to the family nor the school district.

How soon can students return to school after testing positive? 

Following Washington Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle & King County’s guidance for people who test positive for COVID-19, students and staff can return to school after isolating for five full days if they have no symptoms or if their symptoms have subsided and have had no fever for the last 24 hours without medication.

Students and staff are required to wear a well-fitted mask around others on days 6-10 OR test negative with an antigen test to return without a mask.

If they cannot wear a mask and do not test negative after day five, they must stay home though days 6-10.

Will SPS implement a test-to-stay program? 

Test-to-stay was a strategy to keep unvaccinated students who are not showing symptoms in school after they had been identified as a close contact. SPS was implementing a Test to Stay strategy when the State Department of Health changed the requirement so that students and staff who are exposed to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.

SPS has pivoted our Test to Stay strategy to On-Demand Testing. As some COVID mitigation measures are being lifted or becoming optional, testing is now an even more important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to maintain in-person learning in our schools. On-demand testing will be used when there is a need to test multiple students or staff. Testing will be used for:

  • Students or staff with COVID-like symptoms
  • Individuals who are at high risk for significant illness from COVID
  • Individuals who are exposed to COVID in their household
  • During clusters and potential outbreaks to maintain in-person instruction
  • Screen testing for Athletics and Performing Arts students participating in indoor, high-aerosol generating activities

Will testing be used to limit outbreaks? Will testing be required?

The district’s goal is to preserve in-person learning while maintaining a safe learning environment. The district’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) has been revised to include how schools will be supported if the positive COVID case rates in a classroom or school reach the Department of Health definition of a cluster or outbreak (page 16).

If Coordinated School Health, in consultation with Public Health, suspects or confirms an outbreak at an elementary school, the district will require testing and masking for the identified core group of students (e.g., 2nd grade class).

  • Testing will be required twice in a 5-day period for all students in the exposed classroom. If consent is not provided, the student will need to quarantine for 5 full calendar days.
  • Universal, required masking will resume for the identified core group (e.g., 2nd grade class) for 5 calendar days or the testing cycle. Once the testing cycle is complete, masking will be  required for another 5 full calendar days. 
  • If there are multiple clusters or outbreaks across classrooms, the district will recommend masking for all students in the school for 10 days.
  • Additional mitigations will be considered including increased physical distancing in consultation with Coordinated School Health.

If required core group testing shows a significant increase in positive cases, Coordinated School Health/Operations may consider a school-wide mask requirement or shifting the classroom(s) to 100% remote model to stop transmission.

For secondary schools, if an outbreak is suspected or confirmed by Coordinated School Health in consultation with Public Health, the following actions will take place:

  • Required universal masking for all secondary students for 10 calendar days.
  • Possible required testing of students in impacted classrooms (e.g., 9th grade ELA class, indoor sports team).
    • Testing will be required twice in a 5-day period for all students in the exposed classroom.
    • If consent is not provided, the student will need to quarantine for 5 full calendar days.
    • Possible additional mitigations including physical distancing.

If required core group testing shows a significant increase in positive cases, Coordinated School Health/Operations may consider shifting the school to 100% remote model to stop transmission.

Has SPS considered a pooled testing protocol? 

Pooled testing screens a group of people together, like a classroom, on a regular basis to proactively identify positive cases. If there is a positive result, then that group is tested on an individual basis. Pooled testing has been used effectively to screen for the Delta variant. It is less effective with the Omicron variant, given how quickly transmission occurs. 

Home tests are now widely available for families, staff, and students and we encourage testing at home when possible. In addition, SPS offers rapid antigen testing and diagnostic testing in all schools.

SPS has been and continues to provide weekly screening testing for indoor high impact athletics and some performing arts students as recommended by DOH. We are also offering on-demand testing to address suspected or confirmed outbreaks in classrooms and schools. Weekly screen testing for all 50,000 students requires more test resources and personnel to administer than we currently or will have available in the future. Pool testing, a form of screen testing has been explored by SPS but is not an effective tool for the Omicron variant or subvariant given the rate of transmission. 

SPS will continue to adjust our testing strategy to align with current DOH guidance and variants of concern. We are currently providing rapid antigen testing at all schools, home tests, PCR testing for symptomatic individuals, and on-demand testing to reduce outbreaks and sustain in-person learning.

How do I use the SPS provided home test kit?

SPS currently has iHealth COVID-19 Rapid Antigen home tests available for use in school or to be sent home with students. IHealth instruction video.

Can families get tested at school testing locations? 

No, the COVID tests offered at school are just for students and staff. There are a number of free testing options for families. You can order free tests through the federal government and the State of Washington.

How can my family receive free COVID-19 tests? SPS will continue to provide school-based testing but we encourage families to also test at home. You can order FREE at-home COVID tests through the federal government and the State of Washington.

FDA Testing Fact Sheets for Patients

DOH provides districts with rapid antigen tests from a variety of companies.

The Fact Sheets below contain information to help you understand the risks and benefits of using these tests for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

Abbott Binax Now COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test

AccessBio CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Test

BD Veritor System for Rapid Detection of SAR-CoV2

iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test

Students and Staff COVID Testing

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