Will schools be the next source of COVID outbreaks?

Editor's note: This is the third article in a series on coronavirus testing in K-12 schools. Read the about the impact of variants and “long COVID” in the previous articles.


You may have a COVID-19 prevention strategy for your school(s) that includes a temperature check and self-reporting of symptoms. Ideally, teachers and staff are vaccinated, so they are prepared to gree kids who are eager to return to in-person learning. We know you are ready to start a new school year and we want to help educate and give you the tools you need in order to return to some degree of normalcy.


About 4 million kids under the age of 12 have tested positive for COVID. They represent nearly 14 percent of all new cases. [1]


Child selects book in library


Based on a recent study conducted in the UK, young people are starting to test positive for the coronavirus at five times the rate of older people [2]. As Governor J. B. Pritzker of Illinois noted when interviewed on this topic, “What I'm concerned about is that we don't yet have a vaccine for kids under 12 years old, and the Delta variant seems to have been predominant among people who are unvaccinated.” [3]


In some cases, it takes four days or longer from the date of infection before any symptoms appear, which means that those individuals can be on school grounds for nearly a week without knowing they are infected, or even spreading the virus. What’s more, if they don’t have symptoms, they may never know. Given this, researchers suggest that waiting for either symptoms to develop or for a positive test may not be proactive enough to slow down the spread of the virus, even though these methods have been used in many jurisdictions to prevent COVID-19 transmission [4].


Regular monitoring of everyone in a school setting may be the only way to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools, per a recent study published in the Journal PLOS Computational Biology [5]. Proactive and comprehensive testing will help keep school districts ahead of the game by identifying those who are infected and may be asymptomatic, but are still positive for COVID-19, and may be spreading to others. Testing in schools is supported by government funds to help limit costs for school, is less invasive and the most effective way to monitor the prevalence of COVID-19.


Comprehensive K-12 coronavirus testing can be quickly implemented with the Thermo Fisher Scientific ReadyCheckGo testing program. With pooled sampling to keep costs more efficient, swabbing done quickly by students, and prepaid return shipping, this program is designed to make in-school coronavirus testing an easy reality for students, educators and parents alike. 


Additional resources

Video: Implement coronavirus testing in K-12 schools


On-demand webinar:
Open the path to in‑person learning