In our efforts to safely welcome all students back to school for in-person learning, the School District of Philadelphia is providing COVID-19 testing for all K-12 students. COVID-19 testing is part of a comprehensive, multilayer approach to protect the safety and protection of students and staff. The purpose of student testing is to provide an additional layer of prevention to slow the spread of COVID-19 in school buildings and extracurricular activities. The testing program is convenient, safe, and free of charge. The program includes the following testing models: 

  1. Symptomatic Testing—testing students with COVID symptoms. The student will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 test if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at school.
  2. Test to Play/Perform (REQUIRED)— routine (weekly) asymptomatic testing of student athletes and performers who do NOT show COVID-19 symptoms. The student will be required to complete a COVID-19 test twice a week to test for the COVID-19 virus. The student may provide proof of COVID-19 immunization to opt-out of athletic or performance testing. Athletic testing will include high-contact sports only (football, volleyball, wrestling, indoor track, lacrosse). Performing arts testing will include band (woodwind and brass) and choir. All students participating in these activities will be required to have parent/guardian consent on file.
  3. Test to Stay—testing those students who are a close contact of a COVID-positive person. If the student is identified as a close contact of a person who has COVID-19, they will be eligible to receive COVID-19 testing after the exposure.  This testing model is designed to allow close contacts to stay in school vs. quarantine at home and miss school.

Currently Test to Stay is paused by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH)  due to rising case counts. As case counts fall, PDPH will reevaluate and advise the District the best time to start Test to Stay.

Free COVID-19 Testing is Available for Students & Families

The School District of Philadelphia is partnering with DOCS Health , CHOP, and the Philadelphia Department of Health to make FREE COVD-19 Testing available for families. All students attending in-person and through Philadelphia Virtual Academy are eligible be tested for COVID-19.

  • Please bring identification and health information.
  • No co-pay is required. Uninsured patients will still be tested.

School-Based Test Locations

South Philadelphia High School
2101 S. Broad St.
Samuel Fels High School
5500 Langdon Street
Overbrook High School
5898 Lancaster Ave

MLK High School
6100 Stenton Ave.
Thomas Edison High School
151 West Luzerne Street

To learn more, view DOCS Health’s information flyer.
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OR call DOCS Health at  (866) 916-6447

Click Here for additional community locations available for students.

About the Test

The School District will provide Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test to students for whom we have received prior parent/guardian consent. This test is a quick nasal swab of both nostrils. It is found to be fast and painless (it is NOT the deep-sinus swabs that some individuals have found uncomfortable.) The test involves inserting a small swab, like a Q-Tip, into the front of the nose in both nostrils; results will be available in 15 minutes.

COVID-19 testing is required for all students participating in athletics and performing arts programs. Your child cannot participate in these extracurricular activities without your consent to conduct COVID-19 testing. 

We strongly encourage families of all students participating in-person learning to provide consent to COVID-19 testing. The symptomatic and test-to-stay testing models are not mandatory but highly encouraged to keep our schools safe. All students will be able to access in-person learning even if the family chooses not to have them participate in COVID-19 testing. The more students that participate, the better our ability will be to monitor COVID-19 transmission in our school buildings. Testing is essential to keeping your child and your child’s school safe and healthy, and ensuring the school building can stay open and in-person learning can continue. 

To consent to testing, parents/guardians must review the consent form, complete the requested information, sign the document, and return the form to their child’s school. 

NOTE: Regardless of consent the parent/guardian of a student with symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to pick the student up immediately in the same manner that students who have been tested. All students regardless of participating in the testing program will be required to be picked up from school when they are ill.

Printable Testing Consent Forms:

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HOW TESTING WORKS

Image of a Dr. swab testing a student

Your child will participate in COVID-19 routine testing.

Image of a Dr. swab testing a student

We use a rapid antigen test. It's quick, easy, and painless.

Image of a Dr. swab testing a student
Results in 15 minutes.

THE RESULTS

Image of a Dr. swab testing a student

Families will be notified of their child's results by email or text on the day their child was tested.

Image of a Dr. swab testing a student

If your child tests positive, they will need to stay home for 10 days, and may also need to have their results confirmed with a PCR or molecular test. Students who are quarantining or isolating will receive instructional support while at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the School District conducting COVID-19 testing?

The School District is committed to providing high-quality, in-person education in a manner that safeguards the health of students, teachers and staff. Testing helps us to quickly identify those with COVID-19 so they can isolate, and their close contacts can quarantine. Some people who have COVID-19 do not have symptoms and can spread the disease. Testing and contact tracing helps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the school setting and beyond. Testing will also help to reduce the likelihood of large outbreaks. Some people who have COVID-19 do not have symptoms and can spread the disease.

Is there a cost associated with testing in school?

No. There is no cost for students to participate in testing.

Are all students getting tested?

The testing programs are for students who have symptoms of COVID-19, students participating in high contact sports and/or select performing arts programs, and may also include a Test-to-stay program for those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. At this time school-wide asymptomatic screening testing program is not required for students.

Who is required to be tested weekly?

Students participating in athletics and/or performing arts are required to test 2 times weekly and/or before a competition or performance. Athletic testing will include high-contact sports only (football, volleyball, field hockey, soccer, wrestling, indoor track, competitive spirit, lacrosse). Performing arts testing will include band (woodwind and brass) and choir. Any student participating in athletics and/or performing arts will be required to have parent/guardian consent on file, unless they have opted out with proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

The symptomatic and Test-to-stay testing programs are not mandatory but highly encouraged to keep our schools safe. All students will be able to access in-person learning even if a family chooses not to have them participate in COVID-19 testing.

How do I provide consent?

You must completely fill out and return this consent form for your child to be tested. The consent form will be maintained on file with the school nurse. The consent form is valid for the 2021-22 school year. If you consent:

  • Symptomatic testing: The student will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 test if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at school.
  • Routine Athletic and Performance testing (REQUIRED): The student will be required to complete a COVID-19 test twice a week to test for the COVID-19 virus. The student may provide proof of COVID-19 immunization to opt-out of athletic or performance testing.
  • Test to Stay (close contact): If the student is identified as a close contact of a student who has COVID-19 in the school setting, they are eligible to receive COVID-19 testing after the exposure.

Regardless of consent the parent/guardian of a student with symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to pick the student up immediately in the same manner that students who have been tested. All students regardless of participating in the testing program will be required to be picked up from school.

What happens if I do not provide consent?

All students participating in athletics and/or performing arts will be required to have consent to routine COVID-19 testing unless they have opted out with proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Students will not be allowed to participate in sports or performing arts, if their families do not consent to their participation in the test to play/perform COVID-19 testing program.

We strongly encourage families of all students participating in-person learning to provide consent to symptomatic and Test-to-Stay. The more students that participate, the better our ability will be to monitor COVID-19 transmission in our school buildings. This testing is essential to keeping your child and your child’s school safe and healthy, and ensuring the school building can stay open and in-person learning can continue.

What is Test-to-Stay?

Test-to-Stay is a testing program available to students considered to be close contacts of someone who tests positive for COVID-19. This testing program provides the option for students to remain in school rather than quarantining at home, so long as they remain asymptomatic and test negative on three non-consecutive days within the first seven days following exposure to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. This program is contingent on the approval of the PDPH and dependent on COVID-19 case rates in the city of Philadelphia.

What if I do not want my child to participate in Test-to-Stay?

If you do not consent to the Test-to-Stay program, your student will need to be quarantined and can return to school after 10 days if they remain symptom free. Your student may return after day 8 of their quarantine if they receive a negative test between days 5-7 and remain asymptomatic.

What if my child cannot be tested due to their documented disability?

If your child has a documented disability and testing would impair your child’s mental or physical health due to that disability, please work with your IEP and/or 504 team to discuss a plan/alternative for how to proceed.

How can I help my child prepare for the test (especially younger children)?

You should talk to your child about testing. We encourage you to tell them that the school nurse needs to make sure they are healthy, so they are going to do a test for the virus by rubbing a small cotton swab inside the front part of their nose. Remind your child that it’s okay that the nurse performs this test and that it’s quick, safe, and gentle.

Does everyone still need to wear masks and practice social distancing?

Yes. Testing does not replace the other important steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19: wearing face masks, maintaining physical distance, and hand hygiene, and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces.

What type of test will my child receive?

The school district will provide Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test to students for whom we have received prior parent/guardian consent. This test is a quick nasal swab of both nostrils. It is found to be fast and painless. (It is NOT the deep-sinus swabs that some individuals have found uncomfortable.) The test involves inserting a small swab, like a Q-Tip, into the front of the nose in both nostrils; and results will be available in 15 minutes.

Who will administer the test?

The test will be administered by Certified School Nurses who have been formally trained by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health; and/or trained clinical staff employed by a COVID-19 testing provider.

What happens if my child tests positive?

In the event a student tests positive, the student will be taken to the medical waiting room and the parent will be informed immediately to pick the student up from school. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) will be notified and the school will cooperate in contact tracing with the PDPH. Anyone identified as a close contact will also be sent home and will be required to quarantine. A close contact is identified as an individual who was within six feet of the positive student/staff or longer than 15 cumulative minutes in the past 48 hours. The school will put out its standard notification of a positive case and follow disinfecting protocols.

When will I receive my child’s results?

In most instances, parents/guardians will receive results by email or text within 1 hour of their child being tested. The school nurse or other staff member will immediately make efforts to contact a parent/guardian in the case of a student testing positive upon receiving a positive test result.

What are the student quarantine/isolation protocols?

Students identified as close contacts with a positive case of COVID-19 must quarantine at home for 10 days. However, they may end quarantine after day 7 and return to school on day 8 if they remain asymptomatic and receive a negative COVID-19 test between days 5 and 7. Vaccinated, asymptomatic close contacts do not need to be quarantined. Positive cases must be isolated for at least 10 days.

When can my child return to school?

When tested and determined to be COVID-19 positive, the student will remain home until all of the following are true:

  • at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms, AND
  • 24 hours fever-free without use of fever reducing medication (Tylenol, Motrin, etc.), AND
  • symptoms are improving.

Note: The COVID-19 positive individual does NOT need a repeat COVID test or a doctor’s note in order to return to school.

When symptomatic, tested, and determined to be COVID-19 negative, the student will remain home until:

  • Receiving and presenting a negative PCR test available at any of the Stationary Sites or from another entity, AND
  • The student meets the school’s normal criteria for return after an illness which includes fever free, vomiting and diarrhea free for greater than 24 hours without medication OR
  • A clinician has evaluated the child and documented an alternative diagnosis and that the student may return to school AND
  • The student meets the school’s normal criteria for return after an illness which includes fever free, vomiting and diarrhea free for greater than 24 hours without medication

When symptomatic but COVID-19 testing was not completed, the students will remain home until all of the following are true:

  • at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms, AND
  • 24 hours fever-free without use of fever reducing medication (Tylenol, Motrin, etc.), AND
  • symptoms are improving; OR
  • A clinician has evaluated the student and documented an alternative diagnosis and that the student may return to school sooner than 10 days.

How will I know if my child is a close contact due to an exposure at school? Who will notify me?

If your child was identified as a close contact due to an exposure at school you will be notified by your child’s school nurse or principal. This notification will be sent home via backpack mail and/or email after consultation with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH).

What isolation instructions will be given if my child tests positive?

You should keep your child home from school and contact their physician until all of the following are true:

  • at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms AND
  • 24 hours free of fever without the use of fever reducing medication, (Tylenol, Motrin, etc.) AND
  • symptoms are improving

Will my child’s teacher be tested?

Yes, all staff are required to be tested weekly by an outside medical testing provider.

What if I have additional questions?

Contact your child’s principal and/or school nurse.

Helpful Resources

Community Testing Locations for Students