The U.S. Department of Education and the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, a division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently announced a partnership to distribute free COVID-19 tests to schools across the country. In a letter it sent to local education agencies, the USDOE encouraged school districts to order tests directly from the federal government to be made available to students, parents, staff and school communities.

“These self-tests are easy to use and can play an important role in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said Roberto Rodriguez, the USDOE’s assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development. “We encourage schools to make use of these free resources to safeguard students, parents and staff throughout the 2023-24 school year.”

The tests will be made freely available to all traditional and charter LEAs nationwide. School districts may distribute these tests for free to students, staff, parents and school communities, with the expectation that millions of tests will be sent out in the coming months – allowing schools to stock nurses’ offices, distribute at events, send tests home with students or parents and more.

The partnership is part of the nation’s efforts to boost COVID-19 testing access across the country – building on test distribution programs that ASPR has led for over two years. Over 1.6 billion COVID-19 tests have been distributed directly to households, schools, long-term care facilities, community health centers and food banks through these channels – with over 4 million tests sent out each week, a number that is expected to rise as more school districts take advantage of this program.

Additionally, ASPR opened another round of ordering on on Nov. 20, making four more free tests available to households ahead of the holidays. The recent announcement builds on previous efforts to increase COVID-19 testing in schools to keep students safe and schools open.

Read a Dear Colleague Letter from USDOE on the initiative and efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19.