Washington—Mike Magee, CEO of Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of state and district education leaders, today released the following statement on news that the White House will provide $10 billion in funding to states to support Covid-19 screening testing for K-12 teachers, staff, and students in schools.
“This fall, though teachers and school staff may be vaccinated, many students may not be. That means if we want to ensure schools reopen and stay open, districts must launch robust Covid-19 testing programs—they are essential. This work must start today. Superintendents and state education leaders now have access to both the logistical tools and the funding needed to create a testing program.
Coupled with other mitigation strategies, regular Covid testing will allow districts to stay ahead of the virus. Every school district in America should take advantage of this funding to prioritize testing, so that all students and staff, in all communities, have the confidence to be back in classrooms. Today’s announcement by the Biden Administration is a pivotal moment in ensuring our children–particularly our most vulnerable–can fully return to their school buildings, where they learn best and can receive the face-to-face supports they so urgently need.
Chiefs for Change recently released a suite of tools and resources that districts of any size can use to implement routine, widespread Covid-19 testing programs. Resources include a project planning workbook, related tabletop exercises, a document with answers to frequently asked questions, and “Day in the Life Of” simulations that can help systems determine how a testing program would fit into a typical day for students and staff. The materials can help districts design a testing program by outlining recommended roles and responsibilities and by guiding leaders as they consider key questions, such as how often to test students and staff; where and how to set up testing facilities; how to obtain consent for testing; and how to manage inventory, collect samples, communicate test results, track testing data, and dispose of personal protective equipment, among other steps. We developed the materials with funding from The Rockefeller Foundation and were pleased to partner with The Rockefeller Foundation, Testing for America, and Skoll Foundation on Covid-19 Testing in K-12 Settings: A Playbook for Educators and Leaders.”