Vaccines & Testing FAQs
Vaccines & Testing FAQs
Vaccines are essential, but it will take time to reach vaccination rates that will effectively limit transmission so that other safety strategies are no longer necessary.
Until then, maintaining a testing program for our schools will keep us moving in the right direction and help us navigate our way back to normalcy.
If the vaccines are so effective, why does our school need a COVID-19 testing program?
The reality is that there just won’t be enough young people vaccinated by fall 2021 to stop transmission and potential outbreaks from occurring in schools.
Everyone should feel safe and confident about getting a vaccine, but we know that some members of our community will be slower to get vaccinated than others. This should not keep us from return to full-time, in-person learning this fall, but until vaccination rates reach critical levels, additional safety measures are required. With full attendance this fall, extracurricular activities, increased community activity outside of school, and travel, there is potential for a rise in transmission at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. School-based testing is a proven strategy for identifying infections and curbing the spread of the virus in schools.
Will a COVID-19 vaccine be mandatory for students in Washington?
States cannot mandate vaccinations until fully authorized by the FDA. The vaccines currently available have been authorized under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and are simultaneously on track to satisfy requirements for full authorization. Such authorization and subsequent mandates at the state-level will greatly increase vaccination rates for school-aged kids.
Should we be worried about COVID-19 variants?
Vaccines are very effective against the disease, but researchers are still learning more about how well they protect against certain variants.
Testing and other safety measures remain vital to protecting against transmission and potential outbreaks in schools and communities until variants are better understood and pandemic is fully behind us.
If a student is vaccinated, do they still need to take a COVID-19 test?
According to CDC guidance published on July 9, 2021, “people who are fully vaccinated do not need to participate in screening testing and do not need to quarantine if they do not have any symptoms; though decisions regarding screening testing may be made at the state or local level.” School districts should work with their local health departments to determine what measure of testing is recommended for schools based on community transmission levels and vaccination rates. Schools may continue to recommend screening testing until vaccination rates reach critical levels. Diagnostic testing, or opt-in symptomatic testing for students and staff, may also be available for all members of the school community whether they have been vaccinated or not. In any case, testing programs through Learn to Return are voluntary for students and families.
Things are getting better, and vaccinations are helping ensure that they do.
But transmission and outbreaks in school (and therefore time away from school) still present challenges as we all work together return to full-time, in-person learning. Testing for COVID-19 remains an essential tool for protecting our teachers, staff, students, and their families by helping to reduce the spread of the virus in our schools and communities.
Resources and Information