Houston Health Department

Houston Health Department to offer on campus COVID-19 testing in schools

September 23, 2021

HOUSTON - The Houston Health Department is partnering with Houston ISD and Aldine ISD to provide free on-campus COVID-19 testing to students and staff at many campuses this school year.

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

“We know students learn best in the classroom, and keeping schools open for safe in-person learning is a priority,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “I urge parents to permit their children to participate in the testing program. Our goal is to keep campus staff, students, and families healthy while preventing a need to shut down schools because of a COVID-19 outbreak.”

“Thanks to the Houston Health Department we are continuing to expand our tool kit of protection that is keeping our students and staff safe from the deadliest virus of our lifetime,” Houston Independent School District Superintendent Millard House II said. “First, we mandated masks in our schools, and now the City of Houston is providing testing that can catch COVID-19 before it spreads through our schools. This partnership with the City of Houston will save lives.”

Regular testing is especially important for children under 12 years old who are not yet able to get vaccinated against COVID-19, families and staff with younger children at home, and others who are not vaccinated or are otherwise at risk for getting seriously sick from COVID-19.

“Many people with COVID-19, especially children and teens, don’t have symptoms but can still spread the virus,” said Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the City of Houston. “Regular testing of school communities will help us find students and staff with the virus and put measures in place to slow the spread at both school and home.”

The health department will partner with Fulgent Genetics to conduct the testing.

The PCR tests are conducted with a shallow nose swab that goes only half to three-quarters of an inch into the nose and is rotated three times in each nostril. Qualified medical professionals will administer the swabs.

Tests are conducted in a certified lab and results expected within one day.

Schools within communities with high COVID-19 transmission and low vaccination rates will be prioritized. The testing program will launch later this school year.

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.

Testing results will be shared only for public health purposes, which may include notifying close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Sharing of information is done in accordance with applicable law and policies protecting privacy and the security of data.

Visit HoustonEmergency.org for information about the program. The site also provides locations of free testing and vaccination sites across the city.

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 https://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dpei/epidemiology-laboratory-capacity.html.