Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Teacher Bob Anderson goes over the syllabus with his students in his World History class at Trinity High School on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020 in Weaverville, CA. The Trinity Alps Unified School District reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic, resuming in-person classroom instruction. (Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Teacher Bob Anderson goes over the syllabus with his students in his World History class at Trinity High School on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020 in Weaverville, CA. The Trinity Alps Unified School District reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic, resuming in-person classroom instruction. (Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

'Where Are the Tests?' US Schools Reopen Amid Worrying Lack of Covid-19 Resources for Students, Educators

"Sending kids back to school without adequate testing available for them or their younger family members is a recipe for disaster."

Kenny Stancil

While millions of students, teachers, and other staff return to school this week—many online but some for in-person learning despite coronavirus infection rates remaining at unsafe levels in their communities—it was revealed Tuesday that half a million children have been diagnosed with Covid-19, leading progressive advocates to ask: Where are the tests? 

According to a new Rockefeller Foundation report (pdf) published Wednesday, "the U.S. may need up to 193 million coronavirus tests each month in order to safely reopen schools and fortify nursing homes." A minimum of 175 million tests would be required for teachers and students alone, the report notes. 

Those figures are far higher than current testing capacity in the U.S., which the Covid Tracking Project estimates is 21 million tests per month. 

"We've known since the start of the pandemic crisis that testing is critical for keeping the public safe. Sending kids back to school without adequate testing available for them or their younger family members is a recipe for disaster," said Kyle Herrig, president of watchdog group Accountable.US. "The public health crisis isn't over. Trump and his administration need to ensure that quick, affordable testing is available to everyone who needs it."

Unfortunately, according to reporting by the New York Times, it is especially challenging to obtain tests for children. 

"Even in large cities with dozens of test sites, parents are driving long distances and calling multiple centers to track down one accepting children," the Times wrote. "The age policies at testing sites reflect a range of concerns, including differences in health insurance, medical privacy rules, holes in test approval, and fears of squirmy or shrieking children."

Now, with kids returning to school, the inadequate testing infrastructure for children is being described by some health policy experts as "a blind spot... interfering with school reopening plans and with efforts to understand" transmission of the virus. 

In some districts where in-person learning resumed, coronavirus cases surged, causing temporary school closures. In Florida, the rapid spike in cases among school-age children provoked the state to order some counties to hide data from the public. 

Several states have pushed for "in-person learning despite dangerously low testing rates and high instances of infection," Accountable.US notes. 

According to the watchdog group's latest report (pdf), the federal government's failure to provide testing materials to states led to insufficient testing at the local level, undermining the Trump administration's demand that schools reopen for in-person learning. 

The organization's tracking of the shortcomings of testing in the U.S. can be followed at WhereAreTheTests.com

The authors of the Rockefeller Foundation report concluded by saying: "There is an urgent need for federal action to provide more clarity about testing protocols and testing needs, to provide reliable and predictable funding for screening tests, and on how to use the tests effectively in high-priority settings."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Congress Must Act': Bernie Sanders Demands End of Filibuster to Codify Abortion Rights

"We must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country. And if there aren't 60 votes to do it, and there are not, we must reform the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes."

Jon Queally ·


Human Rights Defenders Warn Biden Border Policy 'Quickly Transforming Into Trump 2.0'

Like his predecessor, President Joe Biden now being accused of "using racist, xenophobic tropes about immigrants to weaponize Covid-19 against migrants and asylum-seekers."

Jon Queally ·


'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·


'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo