10 JUNE 2021

The latest updates on COVID-19, testing, and vaccines curated for L2R school districts.

The L2R Newsletter features the latest updates & guidance on COVID-19, testing programs, and vaccines for Learn to Return school districts. Our first issue includes: 

L2R By The Numbers

What is pooled testing?

Boogers down!

Same Swab, Different Spot

Program Manager News Roundup

Learn to Return funding extended through July 2022! 

Summer 2021 is a great time for schools to launch a testing program, pilot new testing strategies, or prepare to scale current strategies for fall 2021. Health Commons Program Managers are available over the summer to help guide these efforts.

Curative and BinaxNOW testing forms are now available in 36 languages! 

The translated materials are now available in the following languages:

Amharic, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), English, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

By the numbers

A summary of top testing vendor data between March 1 and June 1, 2021.

School districts engaged with L2R

School-based testing kick-off meetings held

Testing programs launched

Tests completed with a 6.1% positivity rate

What is Pooled Testing?

Pooled testing (also called batch testing) is a type of screening test that allows multiple samples to be processed at once. 

This is a streamlined screening strategy for both students and staff that reduces labor, registration, and appointment responsibilities for the school district. Reflex testing (either with a PCR or rapid antigen test) is required for pools with a positive screen.  

Pooled testing (also called batch testing) is a type of screening test that allows multiple samples to be processed at once.


Learn to Return is piloting this service with Washington-based company, Atlas Laboratories, to introduce pooled testing in K-12 schools.

Fast Fact #2

PCR testing – the gold standard for accuracy – is used to analyze samples from up to 20 participants per cohort or “pool.”

Fast Fact #3

Students self-administer a shallow nasal swab and deposit them into a single collection tube for each cohort.


Sample collection for a cohort takes about 5 minutes and results are returned between 12-48 hours.


Fast Fact #5

Pooled testing participants are deidentified in the testing application. Personal information is not shared with the lab, but rather is based on student and staff school ID.


Fast Fact #6

No CLIA waiver is required.

“Boogers down!”

Watch this 2nd grader demonstrate a shallow nasal swab for pooled testing using his own words.

Same Swab, Different Spot

The Washington State Department of Health has determined that nasal swabs will be the standard for school-based testing across the state. Districts currently collecting samples with an oral swab for Curative tests are asked to pivot to shallow nasal swabs over summer 2021 in preparation for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Your Health Commons Program Manager will help you make a smooth transition from oral to nasal swabs.

Only the method of sample collection will change. 

The kits, logistics, registration, and online portal will not change, only the method of collection. As with the oral swab, kids aged 4 and up can self-administer the shallow nasal swab, which is quick and painless.

Consent forms will be updated to include language about the shallow nasal swab and circulated to Learn to Return districts currently using oral swabs for Curative tests. Translated versions of the updated forms will also be circulated and added to this shared folder.

The swab only enters half-an-inch into each nostril, makes three rotations, and is placed, swab-side down, in the collection tube.

Program Manager News Round Up, June 10, 2021

Looking for a curated reading list for the most recent news on COVID-19?

Check out what our Program Managers have been reading lately. 

A safe return to US schools seems closer with vaccines and testing improvements

“Until vaccines are approved for children of all ages, rapid antigen testing might be the best way to limit rare outbreaks of the virus, detect them early and keep schools open consistently.”

Schools Are Dropping Mask Requirements, But A New CDC Study Suggests They Shouldn’t

“This is one more study showing that masking, among other mitigation efforts, ‘can reduce infections and ultimately save lives.’”

What Chicago’s Fight Against The Pandemic Could Teach Us About Fixing Health Care

“Some community groups say the pandemic has empowered them to take an equal seat at the table alongside government leaders and major institutions, which could propel everyone toward solving more of these long-standing problems.”

CDC Director Urges Parents to Vaccinate Teens, Pointing to Increase in Severe Cases

“Adolescents have many reasons to get vaccinated as soon as possible, including their own health, the ability to help control COVID-19 among more vulnerable groups and the ability to return to normal life.” 

Vaccine History Repeats Itself — Sometimes

Facts and photos from vaccine campaigns throughout history.

12 Southeast Seattle Schools to Share Fundraising Proceeds; New Equity Approach

School partnerships to address school-funding equity issues.

Washington’s Cases Among Unvaccinated People

“Washington’s case rate among unvaccinated people is as high as it was in late January, near the peak of Covid infections.”

COVID-19 Testing to Sustain In-Person Instruction and Extracurricular Activities in High Schools — Utah, November 2020–March 2021

“School-based COVID-19 testing should be considered part of a comprehensive prevention strategy to identify SARS-CoV-2 infections in schools and sustain in-person instruction and extracurricular activities.”