Building School-Academic Partnerships to Implement COVID-19 Testing in Underserved Populations.

Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1542/peds.2022-060352C


OBJECTIVE: In April 2021, the US government made substantial investments in students' safe return to school by providing resources for school-based coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mitigation strategies, including COVID-19 diagnostic testing. However, testing uptake and access among vulnerable children and children with medical complexities remained unclear.

METHODS: The Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Underserved Populations program was established by the National Institutes of Health to implement and evaluate COVID-19 testing programs in underserved populations. Researchers partnered with schools to implement COVID-19 testing programs. The authors of this study evaluated COVID-19 testing program implementation and enrollment and sought to determine key implementation strategies. A modified Nominal Group Technique was used to survey program leads to identify and rank testing strategies to provide a consensus of high-priority strategies for infectious disease testing in schools for vulnerable children and children with medical complexities.

RESULTS: Among the 11 programs responding to the survey, 4 (36%) included prekindergarten and early care education, 8 (73%) worked with socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, and 4 focused on children with developmental disabilities. A total of 81 916 COVID-19 tests were performed. "Adapting testing strategies to meet the needs, preferences, and changing guidelines," "holding regular meetings with school leadership and staff," and "assessing and responding to community needs" were identified as key implementation strategies by program leads.

CONCLUSIONS: School-academic partnerships helped provide COVID-19 testing in vulnerable children and children with medical complexities using approaches that met the needs of these populations. Additional work is needed to develop best practices for in-school infectious disease testing in all children.

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Suppl 1

MeSH Keywords

Child; Humans; Vulnerable Populations; COVID-19 Testing; COVID-19; Schools; Students


Vulnerable Populations; COVID-19 Testing; COVID-19; Schools; Students

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