K-12 COVID-19 Screening Program

Thank you for your interest in the K-12 COVID-19 testing program! Your child can get free weekly COVID-19 PCR tests through their school through the 2021-22 school year. OHSU is able to test all students who wish to be a part of the program. Just download the documents below to find all the information you need, and contact your school to sign up. We have the documents in 12 languages.

Help keep our schools open for in-person learning with negative test results!

The best test is a negative test.  To stop the spread of COVID-19, keep practicing COVID safety both in and out of school.  This means:

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands and/or use sanitizer
  • Stay apart from those outside your household as much as possible
  • Get the vaccine (if you are eligible)
Spit test instruction video in English
Spit test instruction video in Spanish

Learn more

Visit OHA's website to learn more about the program.

Need to sign up? Get instructions and forms from your child’s school.

K-12 COVID-19 Testing FAQs

If you need help in another language, please call 833-376-1027, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

General

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has partnered with local medical labs to bring free opt-in COVID-19 testing to K-12 schools in Oregon. OHSU is a medical lab partner in OHA Regions 1, 6 and 9. This means OHSU provides testing to schools in these counties: Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Washington, Clackamas, Multnomah, Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Baker and Malheur. Schools and parents/students must opt in to participate.

The program is funded through a grant to OHA from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website are those of OHSU and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HHS, or the U.S. Government.

OHSU is one of the lab partners for the screening program led by the OHA and the Oregon Department of Education to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Learn more about the program.

OHSU’s laboratory facilities have processed almost 300,000 COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the pandemic. We stand ready to work with schools as they opt in to the program in regions 1, 6 and 9.

Here is the process we will follow:

  1. Oregon Health Authority alerts school districts about the screening program.
  2. Any school in Oregon communicates with OHA if they choose to opt in. OHA notifies OHSU when a school in regions 1, 6, or 9 opts into the program.
  3. OHSU gives these forms to schools :
    1. OHSU intake form. School administration fills out and returns the form to OHSU.
    2. OHA consent form. Schools reach out to parents and students and families who want to participate fill out the form.
    3. OHSU authorization form. Participating families fill out the form to make sure OHSU has the permission and information needed to test students for COVID-19 and report their results.
  4. OHSU sends test kits, labels, instructions, coolers and shipping containers to the schools.

OHSU will work closely with participating schools all year. So far, more than 300 schools that have opted in.  We are actively working with them to enroll students in the screening program. Start dates for testing depend on school enrollment of students, collection of information and creation of patient accounts.

Contact your school or school district to learn if they joined the OHA COVID-19 screening testing program.

We do not have any information on why a school or school district decided not to be part of the program. OHSU cannot ask schools to participate in this or any other program offered by OHA.

Any public or private K-12 school in Oregon can sign up to be part of this program. If your school is part of the program, any student in kindergarten through 12th grade can sign up. Please contact your school to see if they are part of the program and learn how to enroll your student. 

No. The CDC has only funded this program for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Pre-K students are not eligible. If your child has COVID symptoms, keep them away from other people and get them tested. You can find testing sites through the Oregon Health Authority test-site finder.

This program is free for schools and students. It is an important tool to fight the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the Oregon Heath Authority.

OHSU uses a PCR test. This is a molecular test that experts call the gold standard. It is the most accurate type of test for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Many patients find swabbing the nose to be unpleasant. We use a spit test so that all your student needs to do is spit into a sterile tube. There is no uncomfortable swab. It is faster and simpler to process. And, you can even collect it yourself instead of needing medical assistance.

Visit this page for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19.

Program overview

Regular testing helps us stop the spread of COVID-19 and:

  • Keeps our schools open for in-person learning.
  • Helps us detect COVID-19 cases early, so we can stop an outbreak before it happens.
  • Gives you peace of mind knowing whether your child has COVID-19.
  • Prevents a sick child from unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to loved ones.

Testing is one of many tools we use to reduce the spread of COVID-19, along with masking, physical distancing and washing your hands. Many people have the virus and don’t know it because they don’t have symptoms. You can prevent spreading it to your family, friends and others by testing on a regular basis.

After your child is signed up, your school will give you:

  • Instructions on how to collect a spit sample for testing.
  • Spit collection kit (spit sample tube, funnel, etc.) and patient labels. Your school will decide how often to give you these kits for weekly testing.
  • Information on when and where to collect the spit sample (at school or at home), what day of the week to turn it in and where to drop it off.

We will send an email to you with the test results 1-2 days after the sample is collected or dropped off at your school. If the student tests positive or inconclusive, you will get a phone call from a nurse from an OHSU COVID-19 hotline. We will use the primary email and phone number your school has on file for you to contact you about test results.

OHSU will never share your child’s information or COVID-19 status with anyone other than public health officials. OHSU will not share test results with your school. The OHA or the local health authority will call you if you have a positive result to start contact tracing. While your school will not get your child’s results from OHSU, it might get them from the OHA or local health authority.

Enrollment

Just follow your school’s sign up instructions. Your school will provide 2 forms for you to fill out and return to your school:

  1. OHA consent form
  2. OHSU authorization form
    • For students up to age 17: Parent/guardian must fill out the form.
    • For students age 18+: Student must fill out the form. 

The OHA consent form is required for the school’s records. The other form allows OHSU to send protected health information in the form of a label to the school. This label will have the student’s name, date of birth and OHSU medical record number (MRN).

OHSU will not give the school your child’s test results. But, we do encourage you to let the school know if your student tests positive so they can help with contact tracing.

If you change your mind, just let your school’s testing coordinator know that you no longer want to be part of the program.

Yes. Students can enroll at any time during the school year – even if it is for the first time or if they had opted out before. Ask your school for the OHA consent form and the OHSU authorization form. 

Collection and results

DO: 

  • Have your child drink water up to 30 minutes before you collect the spit sample. It can be hard to make enough spit if your mouth is too dry.
  • When you are ready to collect the spit sample, ask your child to think about their favorite foods or the taste of lemons.
  • Read these instructions on how to collect the spit sample.

DO NOT: 

  • Let your child eat, drink (even water), chew gum, or brush/floss their teeth for at least 30 minutes before giving the spit sample. Nothing should be in your child’s mouth for the 30 minutes leading up to the spit sample.

If you put the label on the wrong way, then just replace the label. If you need to use a new collection kit and your school gave you more than one, just use one of the extras. Otherwise, the student can skip this week’s testing and just give a new sample next week on your normal collection day. If you need more testing kits or labels, ask your school’s testing coordinator for more supplies.

Your school will let you know whether to collect the sample at school or at home.

  • Collecting at home: Collect your child’s spit sample in the morning before school on the drop-off day. Have your child drop off the spit sample at your school’s collection site.
  • Collecting at school: No need for you to collect the sample. School staff will collect your child’s spit sample during the school day.

We will send an email to you with the test results 1-2 days after the sample is collected or dropped off at your school.

We know getting a positive or inconclusive test result can be alarming. OHSU wants to help you get through this and make sure that you know what to do next. The nurse from the OHSU COVID-19 hotline will talk to you about:

  • The test results
  • How to isolate (quarantine)
  • Treating the illness

Call OHSU at 833-376-1027, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We can update the student’s record after you get the first test result.

Please check your spam, junk and promotions folders for emails from OHSU Health (k12covidtesting@ohsuhealthmarketing.com).

For help, email k12covidtesting@ohsu.edu or call 833-376-1027, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Yes. OHSU will email your student COVID-19 test results with very little personal information about the student — just their age. OHSU will never share your child’s information or COVID status with anyone other than public health officials. 

If the test results say “detected,” that means the OHSU lab DID find the virus. This is also known as testing positive.

Please have the student stay home and away from other people.

A nurse from the OHSU Health COVID-19 hotline will call you. They will talk to you about:

  • The test results
  • How to isolate (quarantine)
  • Treating the illness

You might get the test results email before we get a chance to call you, but you will get a call. If you have urgent questions, call the OHSU COVID-19 hotline at 833-647-8222 and select option 5. We are available 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Visit this page for more information about COVID-19.

If it has been more than 2 days since your sample collection day, please check your spam, junk and promotions folders. The email will come from OHSU Health (K12covidtesting@ohsuhealthmarketing.com) with a subject line of “COVID-19 test results for your student.”

If you still can’t find the email, please call 833-647-8222 and select option 5. We are available 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Detected: This means the OHSU lab DID find the virus. This is also known as testing “positive.”
  • Inconclusive: This means the OHSU lab was not able to confirm the test results. This means the student does not have a positive or negative test result. 
  • Not detected: This means that your child did NOT have COVID-19 at the time the sample was collected. This is also known as testing “negative.”
  • Invalid: This means that the sample did not have enough material for the OHSU lab to test it.

No. Our PCR test does not detect the antibodies your body makes from the vaccine. It only detects RNA from the virus itself. Some vaccines have RNA, but it will not end up in your spit sample.

Maybe. If your student has tested positive within the past 90 days, please do NOT do the weekly screening test.

Your student could test positive for COVID-19 if there is still viral RNA in their system. Most people who have recovered from COVID-19 will not test positive. If the viral RNA is detected, it is still known as a true positive. Sometimes the tests can pick up RNA even if you are no longer able to infect others. But, you should still use caution if you test positive for any reason.

The main way the virus spreads is through small droplets in the air that are breathed out by an infected person. There is no good data on spreading it by contact with saliva. To be safe, you should still:

  1. Wipe down the sample tube with the alcohol wipe that we give you.
  2. Put the spit sample tube in the biohazard bag.
  3. Wash your hands after collecting the spit sample.

The bags in the test kits are designed to prevent infection once the bag is sealed.

We only use the student’s age to protect the privacy of each student. Any student who tests positive or inconclusive will get a phone call from a nurse at the OHSU COVID-19 hotline. 

Having set a collection day for each school makes it possible for OHSU to test all 16 counties we cover.