K-12 Screening Testing FAQs


What is the Oregon K-12 screening testing program?

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is partnering with regional based medical laboratories to provide opt-in SARS-CoV-2 (Covid) testing program for K-12 schools throughout Oregon. The University of Oregon is one of OHA’s partners in this program and will provide testing to K-12 schools located in Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Lake, Lane, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, and Wheeler counties. The program is funded through a grant to OHA from the Centers for Disease Control. Schools and students must opt-in to participate. 

How much does it cost to participate in the K-12 screening testing program?

This program is free for schools and students and an important tool in combatting the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The program is funded through a partnership with the Oregon Heath Authority and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What kind of COVID-19 test is being offered as part of this program?

UO is offering a PCR test, a molecular test which is considered the “gold standard” and most accurate type of test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. The collection kits provided will be designed for saliva collection and are licensed under an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA.

Why use saliva tests and not nasal swabs?

Testing saliva removes the need for nasopharyngeal swabs, which some patients find uncomfortable. A saliva sample only requires a sterile container, no uncomfortable swab or device and is faster and simpler to process. This increases the capacity for large-scale testing while reducing the strain on supply chains and reducing the likelihood of shortages of testing resources.


How does the process work?

After a student registers, the UO team provides their schools with pre-packaged saliva collection kits, instructions, and all the information students and parents will need to complete a sample.

Students must register through the University of Oregon’s registration portal and are required to complete an Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 Testing Consent Form. Students age 15+ should complete the Minor Consent Form and parents/guardians of students under age 15 should complete the General Consent Form. Under Oregon law, students 15 years old or older may opt-in to testing directly without the involvement of a parent/guardian.

Following these simple instructions, students will be able to quickly collect their sample in a collection tube, seal it in the provided bag, and return it to their school. School staff place the tubes into pre-provided shipping packaging where they will be picked up and transported to the UO lab to be processed. Once tests are processed in the lab, the student (age 15+) or student’s parent/guardian (students under age 15) will be notified that their student’s results are available through the online results portal. Results will also be sent to the state and local public health officials who will call individuals with positive results and begin the contact tracing process. Schools will not receive results for individual students.

How do I sign up my district or school for testing?

Schools start by registering through OHA's School Screening Test Registration Form. Once a school has registered through OHA, the school will be contacted by the University of Oregon. The UO is handling testing for schools located in OHA Regions 3, 5, and 7 (Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Lake, Lane, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, and Wheeler counties).  More information on OHA’s full K-12 testing options is available on OHA website. 

How do I register to participate in weekly screening testing at my school?

If you would like to participate during the 2022-2023 school year:

  • Complete a registration through the UO's student registration portal
  • Complete an OHA COVID-19 Testing Consent Form. This form will be available in August. We will send it out to all who have registered.

I participated last year. What do I need to do to participate again this year?

Students who participated during the 2021-2022 school year will need to complete a new registration for the 2022-2023 school year.

Why isn’t my school listed as an option at sign-up?

Your school may not have signed up to participate in the K-12 testing program or your school is not located in Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, or Wheeler counties. We encourage schools to participate in this important program that provides students free, confidential SARS-CoV-2 testing and is one tool for stopping the spread of the virus.

Why should I participate?

Testing is one of many tools used to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, along with masking, social distancing, and washing your hands. Many people are asymptomatic carriers of the virus and do not know they are infected. You can prevent the further spread of the virus to your family, friends, and others by testing on a regular basis. School-based screening testing has been used in other states to keep schools open and school activities like sports going. The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics strongly support in-person classes for K-12 students, testing is one way that this can be done safely. Consistent, wide-spread screening testing through your school will help to quickly identify COVID-19 cases and interrupt viral spread to others.

Collection and Results

How do I prepare for my saliva self-collection?


  • Drink water up to 30 minutes before your collection. If your mouth is too dry, it can be hard to produce enough saliva. 
  • Think about a delicious meal, your favorite foods or the taste of lemons!


  • Eat, drink (including water), chew gum, eat candy, or brush/floss your teeth for at least 30 minutes before providing your saliva sample. 
  • Wear lipstick or lip balm when you’re testing.
  • Forcefully clear your throat while giving a sample. Too much mucus in the sample makes it difficult to get an accurate test result.

Is there a best time to collect the sample?

Collect the sample the night before or in the morning of your designated school pickup day. It might help to do the self-collection right before sitting down to a meal the night before you return the collection kit. Your school will communicate which day is their designated collection day.

When will I receive test results?

Test results will be ready within 24 to 48 hours from the time the sample is received in the lab. This will likely be one to two days after you return your sample to the lab to allow for shipping from your school to the University of Oregon laboratory in Eugene. 

How will I receive test results? 

Test results are made available through a secure result portal. During registration, each student (age 15+) or parent/guardian (students under age 15) will be asked to provide an email address and phone number. Once results are available, you will be emailed and texted with login information for the portal. This information will allow the student (age 15+) or parent/guardian (students under age 15) to access results for your specific student for the most recent test. Additional information is available on the how to get your results page.

Who do I contact if I’m having trouble accessing my results in the portal? 

Please reach out to c19studentsupport@uoregon.edu with any questions.

Are my test results and personal information kept private?

Yes. Results are available via a secure results portal. The method for accessing test results will be sent only to the email/phone provided by the student or parent/guardian at registration. As is the case with all COVID testing, results will also be provided to the Oregon Health Authority and your local public health official for contact tracing and follow-up. Schools will not receive results for individual students, though they may be contacted by your local public health authority as a part of the contact tracing process. Your test result will not be shared directly with the school, though the school will be notified if there is a positive test. 

What should I do if my results are positive? 

A positive COVID-19 test result indicates that proteins from SARS-CoV-2 was detected in your sample and you are presumed infected and contagious. Stay home and isolate to limit the spread of the virus. You will be contacted by your local public health official at the number you provided during registration. If you develop symptoms at any time, contact your health care provider. Click here to visit OHA’s COVID-19 page for more information. The Oregon Health Authority has provided the following diagram, linked here, to help patients interpret their results. 

What should I do if my results are inconclusive? 

An inconclusive means that your sample did not produce enough information during the testing process to establish a definitive result. IT IS NOT A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE RESULT. This can be a result of having contaminants in the sample from food, drink or toothpaste, among other reasons. If you are not feeling well, we recommend contacting your health care provider or utilize a drop-in testing service to get tested again soon to establish your COVID status. Please be sure to participate in the next week’s testing.

How do I interpret my test results in the portal?

Sample Type: Lists the type of test administered. In this case, a saliva test or anterior nares (AN) swab was administered.

Physician Name: The ordering physician for the testing being conducted at UO testing sites.

Sample ID: The sample tube barcode that is associated with your test sample on a particular test day.

Patient ID: The unique confirmation ID that was provided to you in your confirmation email or text at the time of registration.

Samples Received: The time your test sample was received in the UO MAP lab for processing.

Reports Completed: The time your test sample processing was completed.

Normal Result: Indicates that a negative result is the most common result reported.

Test Description: The type of test processed in the lab is a RT-PCR. SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR detects genetic material of the virus using a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction.

What does it mean if my results say “SARS-CoV-2 Not Detected?"

“SARS-CoV-2 Not Detected” means your sample has tested negative for COVID-19.

What does it mean if my result states “Re-collection Necessary?" 

This means there was a problem with your sample and we were unable to complete testing. We strongly recommend that you test again next week.

Will I get a false positive if I have been vaccinated?

No. The saliva test provided does not detect antibodies like those generated by your body in response to a vaccine. It is highly specific and detects only RNA from the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself. Though some vaccines include RNA, this material will not end up in your saliva from a shot in your arm.

Will I get a false positive if I’ve had/contracted COVID-19 in the past?

You may test positive for COVID-19 if there is still viral RNA in your system; however, most people who have had COVID-19 that is resolved will not test positive. In either case, it is considered a true positive as the viral RNA has been detected. In some cases, the tests are so sensitive that they can pick up RNA that is not viable and cannot replicate, meaning that you are no longer able to infect others. Please use appropriate caution if you test positive for any reason. If you have tested positive within the past 90 days, please do not use the weekly screening test. 

When is COVID-19 testing most accurate? How long does it take after exposure to test positive for COVID-19?

The current recommendation for testing is to get tested five to seven days after a known exposure. Even if this initial test comes back negative, if you are not vaccinated the CDC recommends that you observe the 14-day quarantine period, which is based on the amount of time it takes for an exposed person to become ill.

Can COVID-19 spread through saliva?

The primary route of viral transmission is through small droplets in the air that are breathed out by an infected person. There is not good evidence surrounding transmission through contact with saliva. However, it is always best to be cautious, including sealing and disinfecting the sample tube with the provided alcohol wipe, and washing your hands afterward. The bags provided in the test kits are designed to minimize any possible transmission once the bag is sealed.