COVID-19 Testing for Students and Staff in Pre K-12 Schools and Child Care

Pre K-12 Testing Tips:

COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island is experiencing high demand. The Rhode Island Department of Health encourages Pre K-12 school communities to use the following tips to help move through the process and safely return to school as soon as possible.

  • Parents/guardians, students, and staff are encouraged to schedule an appointment online at portal.ri.gov to avoid long wait times on the Pre K-12 Test Scheduling line.
  • Parents/guardians, students, and staff should add information about their Pre K-12 affiliation when scheduling a test. State-run test sites have a system in place to prioritize Pre K-12 test processing. Find out more about these tips.

General Information

COVID-19 testing is available at test sites in your community and in Pre K-12 schools. There is no cost to participate in COVID-19 testing at a State-run test site or in school. Insurance is not required. 

Schools and districts have developed their own testing programs based on RIDOH’s recommendations. Contact your child’s school or district if you have specific questions about their testing programs, guidance, or protocols.

For more information about the return to 100% in-person learning in Rhode Island’s schools, visit back2schoolri.com.

School-based testing keeps students learning in person.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommends students and staff participate in school-based asymptomatic screening when it is available. Parents can sign a consent form to allow their children to get tested in school. Your child’s school will provide the consent form. Students 16 and older do not need a signed consent form to get tested at school. 

RIDOH recommends students and staff participate in school-based screening when it is available because:

  • Students can have COVID-19 without any symptoms but can still spread the infection to other students.
  • Screening in Pre K-12 schools can identify students who are infected and need to isolate at home to protect other students from getting COVID-19.

Schools and districts have developed their own asymptomatic screening plans based on RIDOH’s recommendations.

Learn more about COVID-19 testing options in Rhode Island.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself from other people in your home as much as possible and get tested right away.  Contact your primary care provider or child’s pediatrician to ask if they offer COVID-19 testing. Do not go to school or work if you feel sick.

Some schools offer testing for students who develop symptoms while at school. Contact your child’s school or district to find out what kind of COVID-19 testing is available. Learn more about the different types of tests offered in schools. 

To schedule a symptomatic test at a State-run test site in your community, call the Pre K-12 COVID-19 test scheduling service at 844-857-1814 or create an account on portal.ri.gov.

  • Follow these tips for scheduling a test online. 
  • The Pre K-12 COVID-19 test scheduling service phone line is open to students and staff in Pre K-12 schools and the child care community. It is available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
  • Services are available in multiple languages. Children age 16 and older must schedule an appointment themselves.
  • You will get a confirmation email with the date, time, and location of your appointment.

At State-run test sites, symptomatic patients will get swabbed twice to collect two specimens. The first swab will be a rapid antigen test and you will get the results in the same day. The second swab will be a PCR test and will only be sent to a lab if needed.

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and your rapid antigen test result is positive, your confirmatory PCR test may not be sent to the lab. You have COVID-19 and should isolate at home.  
  • If you have symptoms and your rapid antigen test result is negative, your PCR test will be sent to the lab to confirm your rapid results. You should isolate at home while you wait for your PCR test results, which are ready in one to two days.

Learn more about COVID-19 testing options in Rhode Island.

People who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should get tested whether or not they’re fully vaccinated and whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19.  A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

  • If you're not yet fully vaccinated, get tested:
    • Immediately after being identified as a close contact, and
    • Again 5 to 7 days after exposure, and
    • Right away if you have symptoms any time in the 14 days after exposure.
  • If you're fully vaccinated, you should:
    • Get tested 3 to 5 days after exposure, and
    • Wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until you receive a negative test result. 
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days and recovered, you do not need to get tested after an exposure as long as you don’t get any new symptoms. 

Learn about RIDOH’s close contact quarantine guidance for students and staff in Pre K-12 schools. Contact your child’s school or district if you have questions about their guidance for close contacts or outbreak testing protocols.  

To schedule a test at a State-run test site in your community, call the Pre K-12 COVID-19 test scheduling service at 844-857-1814 or create an account on portal.ri.gov.

  • Follow these tips for scheduling a test online. 
  • The Pre K-12 COVID-19 test scheduling service phone line is open to students and staff in Pre K-12 schools and the child care community. It is available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
  • Services are available in multiple languages. Children age 16 and older must schedule an appointment themselves.
  • You will get a confirmation email with the date, time, and location of your appointment
  • At State-run test sites, asymptomatic patients will be offered PCR testing. PCR tests are sent to a lab for processing and results are ready in one to two days.
  • Learn more about COVID-19 testing options in Rhode Island.