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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-16
March 10, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Underscores How Rapid COVID Testing Can Facilitate Safe Reopening of Schools

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted a statewide webinar today with health experts and educators that addressed the use of rapid COVID-19 testing as a tool to safely resume in-person learning on school campuses.

“I strongly believe that while we wait for a full vaccine roll-out, we also need to be moving toward a strategy for the deployment of rapid COVID testing that is cost-effective for schools,” Thurmond said. “This is one tool in our tool box—but an important one. Rapid COVID testing is a game-changer. With mounting data that students are suffering from mental health issues and learning disruptions, rapid testing is a real help for districts looking for ways to get students safely back into classrooms.”

During the presentation, Thurmond shared how the use of BinaxNOW COVID-19 Cards, which provide test results in 15 minutes at a cost of $5 per test, will be used at the California Department of Education's (CDE) three State Special Schools to safely return students to in-person instruction.

Along with Superintendent Thurmond, other individuals who presented at today’s webinar were:

  • Dr. Charity Dean, Public Health Physician and past Co-Chair of the Governor’s Testing Task Force, who provided an overview of the BinaxNOW COVID-19 test and stressed the effectiveness of the tests.
  • Dr. Tony Iton, Senior Vice President of Healthy Communities at the California Endowment, who provided an overview of the rapid test pilot program that is currently underway with 11 school districts.
  • Roy Mendiola, Superintendent of the McSwain Union Elementary School District, who reported on his district’s positive experience using the rapid tests through the pilot program.
  • Lisa Constancio, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction at the CDE, who addressed funding sources available to school districts for rapid testing.

Ensuring schools can access regular testing has been at the forefront of Thurmond’s agenda since last fall. He has been in close contact with Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers to include those resources in the signing of AB 86, which provides $2 billion for schools to return to in-person learning by April 1.

Following the presentations, a question-and-answer session covered such topics as test accuracy and false positives, school eligibility for the tests, and student privacy. The entire event can be viewed on the CDE Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab..

School districts can find more information on funding sources for the COVID tests on the CDE CARES Act Funding web page. For questions on rapid COVID testing or the webinar, email

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
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