COVID-19 School Testing Program

Kids wearing face masks

School Testing Program

The Houston Health Department is partnering with local school districts to offer free on-campus COVID-19 testing to students and staff at many campuses during the 2021-2022 school year.

The program will be able to identify COVID-19 cases quickly and early to help stop outbreaks. Regular testing is a safe, effective way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help keep schools open for in-person learning.

If your student brings home a consent form, please sign and return it. If you are unsure if your child’s school is offering the testing, please contact the school.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are schools selected for the program?

Schools within communities with high COVID-19 transmission and low vaccination rates are prioritized.

Do I have to give permission for my student to participate?

Parents at participating schools will receive a consent form that must be signed for their child to participate. If a parent is unsure if their child’s school is offering the testing, they should contact the school.

How will the testing be done?

The COVID-19 testing is free, fast, and very simple. These PCR tests are conducted with a shallow nose swab that only goes half to three-quarters of an inch into the nose and is rotated three times in each nostril. The swab is administered by a qualified medical professional from Fulgent Genetics.

How much does the test cost?

The COVID-19 tests will be free to students and staff. You will never receive a bill, and your insurance will not be charged.

Will my child miss class to get tested?

No, testing shouldn’t interfere with your child’s school schedule. The test is quick and easy, and students will be able to fit the test into their day without disrupting learning.

When will we know the results of the test?

The results of the test should be available within one day.

 Why are results not immediate?

Our testing program uses PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that are analyzed in a certified laboratory. These tests do not provide immediate results.

 Is the test reliable?

PCR tests detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and are highly accurate and considered the gold standard by CDC.

 This school testing program is supported by the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emergency Infectious Disease (ELC) Cooperative Agreement of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling  $69,885,366.00 with 100 percent funded by ELC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ELC/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit the Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections (DPEI).