Rapid Testing Shining a Ray of Sun During Dark Times

With kids back in class, here's how rapid testing is creating a safer learning environment for schools. 

Diagnostics Testing|May.19, 2021

We learn and do our best work when we're in a safe and comfortable environment.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Biden administration have made updates to help enable students and staff's return to the classroom, to recreate familiar environments in schoolhouses.

That's happening at the Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) in El Paso, Texas, which is providing rapid testing to its students and community. Allowing students and teachers to return to the classroom for in-person learning, providing frequent testing and helping minimize students bringing COVID-19 back home to their families and loved ones.

In an area where the COVID-19 positivity rate was 50%, in-person schooling seemed impossible. The Ysleta staff were undeterred. In November, the school opened to those who wanted and, in some cases, needed to attend. In a community with minimal COVID-19 testing options due to job and socioeconomic status, 16,000 students and families were eager to return and accept testing. With the help of rapid testing, and specifically our BinaxNOW rapid tests, the school was able to keep their positivity rate below 1% and give parents more confidence in sending their kids to learn in person.

"We really need the kids back at school. So, with this test we are able to give the parents some peace of mind that we are able to weed out kiddos and staff members and community members who are positive, so we can get these kids back to school," said Deborah Morales, a Bel Air High School Registered Nurse.

Rachel Blair

Once this model was up and running in the fall, El Paso was ready to expand their testing efforts in January, testing roughly 6,600 students and staff weekly with BinaxNOW. This increase in testing enabled the school to make informed decisions, keeping positivity rates below 2% even during outbreaks.

Having students back in school impacts more than just their ability to learn.

Many students rely on athletic programs to earn scholarships to college. Providing weekly testing for student athletes enabled them to return to the classroom and their teams so they can continue to pursue athletics and higher education.

Because of the success the YISD created through frequent rapid testing, other school districts across Texas are calling to learn about their process and adapt it for their schools. USA Today detailed how schools in San Antonio, West Texas and even all over the country are starting to use rapid testing to help bring students and teachers back to the classroom. As the most widely used and studied test, BinaxNOW is being used by states across the country, including California, which recently announced it will distribute up to 3 million BinaxNOW tests for students.

With BinaxNOW in hand, Ysleta schools were able to create a long-lasting, more comfortable environment for their communities, allowing kids to do their best learning when they needed it most. Because every child deserves an education. And "every child deserves peace of mind. And the staff and teachers, we all need that right now. And it's just a ray of sunshine during these times," said Laura Calderon, Vista Hills Elementary School Administrator.

This story was originally published on May 19, 2021 and updated on June 15, 2022.


The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag 2 Card is a lateral flow immunoassay intended for the qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2 in direct anterior nasal (nares) swab samples from COVID-19 symptomatic individuals tested twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests within the first seven days of symptom onset.

This test is authorized for use with direct anterior nasal (nares) swab samples from individuals without symptoms or other epidemiological reasons to suspect COVID-19, when tested twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests. Testing is limited to laboratories certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA), 42 U.S.C. §263a, that meet the requirements to perform moderate, high, or waived complexity tests. This test is authorized for use at the Point of Care (POC), i.e., in patient care settings operating under a CLIA Certificate of Waiver, Certificate of Compliance, or Certificate of Accreditation.

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag tests have not been FDA cleared or approved. They have been authorized by the FDA under an emergency use authorization. The tests have been authorized only for the detection of proteins from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens, and are only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the declaration is terminated or authorization is revoked sooner.