Skip to main content
State of Wisconsin flag

Official website of the State of Wisconsin

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

COVID-19: K-12 School Testing Program

The Department of Health Services (DHS) will again offer convenient COVID-19 testing through schools for students, teachers and staff for the 2022-2023 school year.  There are two types of testing available to K-12 schools and districts in Wisconsin.

  • The K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program connects schools with vendors for testing services and supplies. To learn more about the 2022-2023 K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program, please view this webinar from July 14, 2022.
  • In addition, all Wisconsin schools and districts are eligible to order from a supply of at-home tests available for distribution to students and staff. Find details under At-home Test Ordering below.

Schools and districts can participate in either or both options to help create a healthy, safe learning environment.

Key reasons to test in schools

  • Testing helps reduce community spread and keeps schools operating safely. Testing individuals who are symptomatic and close contacts helps enable rapid detection of cases to reduce or prevent school outbreaks. Testing also helps determine when individuals with COVID-19 symptoms can return to school.
  • Testing in schools helps ensure convenient and equitable access. Schools can help make testing convenient for kids, teachers and staff without requiring extra appointments or transportation.
  • Testing increases confidence in schools’ ability to provide healthy, safe learning environments. Strong testing programs with regular and transparent data sharing can help build confidence in school safety.

K-12 Testing Program

Program features

Free-of-charge and convenient COVID-19 testing services will be available through approved program vendors for the 2022-2023 school year. The program is designed to simplify the testing process for schools. Under the new program:

  • COVID-19 testing is free of charge. COVID-19 testing supplies, diagnostics, and specimen collection services will be made available to schools free of charge.
  • COVID-19 testing is safe and accurate. Whether the school chooses to use rapid, point-of-care antigen tests or highly accurate laboratory-based testing for their students and staff, these tests provide reliable results.
  • COVID-19 testing is flexible. Wisconsin schools can conduct testing on their own or be matched with a program vendor to provide COVID-19 testing operations that are flexible to the school’s needs. Schools choose testing supplies and services appropriate for their school needs.

COVID-19 testing support from the DHS K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program may include testing registration, specimen collection, resulting, result reporting, and patient results notification. Participation in the program is voluntary. Testing supplies, diagnostics, and swabbing services will be provided free of cost.

DHS recommends that schools and school districts align their testing program with theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools. Testing programs can include any of the following elements using rapid, point-of-care (tests done onsite at schools) antigen tests and/or highly accurate, laboratory-based tests and at-home tests:

  • Testing for enrolled students and current teachers and staff with COVID-19 symptoms or those who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 (diagnostic testing)
  • Routine screening testing is no longer recommended. However, schools may consider implementing screening testing in response to any outbreaks. Implementation of screening testing may also be considered for facilities in areas with a high COVID-19 Community Level for:
    • High-risk activities (for example, close contact sports, band, choir, theater)
    • Key times in the year (for example before/after large events such as prom, tournaments, group travel)
    • Returning from breaks (such as, holidays, spring break, at the beginning of the school year).
    • Schools serving students who are at risk for getting very sick with COVID-19, such as those with moderate or severe immunocompromise or complex medical conditions, may consider implementing screening testing at a medium or high COVID-19 Community Level (screening testing)
  • Screening testing of large groups in the school when there has been a COVID-19 outbreak (outbreak testing)

To access this federally funded resource, please complete the 2022-2023 K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program enrollment form. If you have any questions about this process, please contact Schools that participated in the 2021-2022 DHS COVID-19 K-12 Testing Program MUST re-enroll to participate in the program for the upcoming school year.

To help ensure COVID-19 testing is available when your school year begins, please complete the form by July 22. Enrollment will continue throughout the 2022-2023 school year, as funding allows.

A complete list of specific school responsibilities is outlined in the participation form and will also be provided to schools/districts that enroll in the 2022-2023 K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program. Initial school responsibilities will include:

  • Communicate with students, staff, and families. Clear and consistent communication is critical to building support for the testing program within your school community. It is important to communicate any changes in your school/district’s COVID-19 testing plan, including availability, registration information, location(s), hours and types of testing available.
  • Coordinate with vendors to administer the program. Schools should work with program vendors to ensure compliance with background check requirements and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations. FERPA guidance is available from the federal Department of Education’s Student Privacy Policy Office.

Schools that choose to conduct point-of-care testing without vendor support will need to:

K-12 at-home test ordering

Public school districts (districts) and private, independent or charter schools (schools) can order at-home tests (also known as self-tests) to be distributed to staff and students. Districts/schools will be notified when additional supplies become available.

Districts/schools do NOT have to be enrolled in the DHS K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program to order at-home tests. Districts/schools that have already enrolled in the DHS K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program and indicated an interest in at-home tests will need to follow the instructions below to receive at-home tests.

Instructions on how to order can be found in the drop-down section below.

If additional testing supplies and/or services are needed, schools can join the K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program. Information on the program and the enrollment form can be found above.

Questions about this program can be directed to

A COVID-19 self-test (also called an at-home test or over-the-counter test) is a type of COVID-19 antigen test that you can take at home. Self-tests are easy to use and produce rapid results. Find more information on the use of self-tests on the DHS COVID-19: Self-Testing page.

The self-tests being provided to K-12 schools and districts through this program are for distribution to students and staff of participating schools. Schools should establish a plan to communicate the distribution of at-home tests and any requirements to report results to school health staff.

Ordering quantity

Districts/schools can now place subsequent orders for at-home tests if previous orders have been distributed. Orders should not exceed a school/district’s K-12 student and staff population. (Note: Each test kit contains two tests. Kits should not be split between individuals.) 

Schools are encouraged to share information on additional ways families can access testing services, including if your school/district participates in the K-12 Testing Program, availability of free self-tests via the federal government, as well as reimbursement for the purchase of self-tests from health insurers.

Ordering process

Orders must be completed by the district administrator (for public school districts) or school principal (for private, independent schools) or a designee.
Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Large orders may take additional time to process and ship.


At-home tests will be shipped to one location for the district or school once all information is verified. Each district and school is responsible for storage and distribution of at-home tests to students and staff.

Ordering is to be completed by the district administrator or designee for public school districts, and principal or designee for private, independent or charter schools.

  • Go to the Wisconsin COVID-19 Collection Supplies webpage. Scroll down and enter “At-home testing” in the “Testing Plan” section.
  • Choose your facility type: K-12 Schools is near the bottom of the pull-down list.
  • Skip the PCR Testing Supplies section and continue filling out the information requested, including number of test kits requested. The at-home tests come in kits of two tests each. Orders should not exceed your district’s/school’s student and staff population. Each K-12 student and staff member may receive one kit with two at-home tests.
  • Choose one location for shipping. If the order is being placed by a district, the district must then distribute test kits to individual schools. A member of the Wisconsin COVID-19 Testing Team will contact districts/schools placing large orders to provide an estimated timeline for shipment of supplies.
  • A CLIA number is not required because school staff will not be involved in collecting specimen or interpreting test results of self-administered/at-home test. Do not fill out the part of the form for PCR tests.
  • Enter “Requesting K-12 at-home antigen tests” in the “Notes” section.
  • Review and accept outlined terms.

Please note: The information above is for ordering self-tests only. If you wish to join the K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program, which offers in-school services, please sign up. For information on the program, see information above.

Due to the increased availability and recommendation of at-home tests, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends that at-home COVID-19 tests may be used for public health decision-making. Local and tribal health departments (LTHDs) may consider at-home COVID-19 test results to inform certain public health decisions, such as determining if someone has COVID-19 for the purposes of returning to school.

For more information on at-home COVID-19 antigen testing use and reporting please review DPH BCD memo 2022-11. For information on how your county will utilize at-home testing, please contact your local health department.

Frequently asked questions by category

  1. What support is DHS providing schools and school districts to conduct COVID-19 testing? DHS received federal funding to support testing in schools to support their work to maintain safe in-person learning. Testing is available for staff and students who are symptomatic and close contacts, for screening at school, for individuals who attend or participate in school events, or for outbreaks.
  2. How will my school/district be matched with a vendor? Based on information the school/district provides through completing this form, DHS will match the school/district with a partner vendor to support the school/district's testing needs.
  3. Is it mandatory to test students and staff? No, participation in the testing program is voluntary.
  4. Will the program offer schools funding for additional staff in order to conduct testing? No. Direct funding to pay existing staff is not covered under this program. It allows schools to be matched with a program vendor and/or supplies to provide on-site or virtual support to assist with specimen collection and test results.
  5. Do schools need a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) Certificate of Waiver to participate in this program? If a program vendor supports your school testing, then the school or school district does not need to obtain a CLIA Certificate of Waiver. All program vendors that offer rapid, point-of-care testing hold a valid CLIA Certificate of Waiver. Schools can verify their vendor’s CLIA Certificate of Waiver by asking them to provide their CLIA number and checking it on the CDC CLIA Laboratory Search website or emailing sends e-mail). Schools who conduct their own point-of-care testing (testing done onsite) will need to maintain their own Certificate of Waiver. If you need a CLIA waiver, you can find directions for obtaining one through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  6. Is the CLIA certificate or Certificate of Waiver application fee covered under the program? While DHS is unable to reimburse schools for the cost of the CLIA certificate or Certificate of Waiver application fee, schools are able to use federal stimulus funds they have received to cover this cost to conduct waived COVID-19 tests. While ESSER III funds remain available through Sept. 30, 2024, school districts can file a claim for the expending dollars in the same manner as other federal stimulus fund claims. Schools that are conducting other waived tests (for example, making treatment decisions based on blood sugar test results) will need to review their waiver every two years and pay for that fee out of other funding sources. For more information, refer to the CLIA Waiver Frequently Asked Questions from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
  7. Where can I find out additional information about K-12 testing in schools? Schools can find more information and guidance on the Department of Public Instruction website. If K-12 schools have specific questions about testing, email
  8. Is the cost associated with biohazard waste disposal covered under this program? No, the cost of biohazard waste disposal is not covered under this program. Schools are responsible for safely disposing of waste. Program vendors who support testing in schools may provide waste disposal. Other options include the use of biohazard bags, hard-sided biohazard containers for used swabs, and/or the use of a medical biohazard disposal service. For additional information, see CDC Waste Management Guidelines for SARS-CoV-2 Point-of-Care Testing.;

  1. Who at my school/school district is allowed to collect the specimen for a COVID-19 test? Does it have to be a nurse? Any trained staff member or school volunteer is allowed to collect specimens and result rapid, point-of-care antigen tests. Training is available through online videos and materials and from test manufacturers. For more information about where to access this training, email The form allows schools to indicate whether they would prefer to be matched with a program vendor that is able to provide on-site support staff to assist with specimen collection.;
  2. How should schools prepare to test students and staff onsite? Schools interested in offering on-site testing will need to prepare additional mitigation measures and plans. To safely and effectively conduct onsite testing, schools should:
    • Assess and select the model, operations that is appropriate for their school community. Communicate with students, staff and their families about the school’s testing program.
    • Identify the space(s) where testing will occur, keeping individuals with symptoms safely separated from healthy individuals.
    • Develop processes for sending individuals who test positive home as soon as possible.
    • Offer instructions to access follow-up testing when needed.
    • More information on COVID-19 mitigation measures in school settings can be found in the CDC’s Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools.
  3. Should schools require a negative test for students and staff before returning to school after they have been sick? If students or staff test positive, how long should they isolate and quarantine?  No. It is not recommended to require a negative test before returning to school or work. There have been reports that an individual can continue to test positive long after they are considered to be contagious.
  4. How may the results of at-home tests (also known as ‘self-tests”) be used for decision-making? Due to the increased availability and recommendation of at-home tests, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends that at-home COVID-19 tests may be used for public health decision making. Local and tribal health departments (LTHDs) may consider at-home COVID-19 test results to inform certain public health decisions, such as determining if someone has COVID-19 for the purposes of returning to school. For more information on at-home COVID-19 antigen testing use and reporting please review DPH BCD memo 2022-11. For information on how your county will utilize at-home testing, please contact your local health department.

  5. When should an individual be referred for follow-up testing? Please refer to the CDC guidance on this topic. When antigen tests are used to identify COVID-19, follow-up testing is recommended for some individuals to confirm the accuracy of the test. High accuracy follow-up testing is recommended for individuals who are symptomatic and test negative. Confirmatory testing should be conducted as soon as possible, no more than 48 hours after the antigen test. For a simple guide on when re-testing is needed, see COVID-19 Antigen Testing: When is it Best to Retest? Additional guidance for the use of antigen testing is located in the COVID-19 Health Alert #17: Important Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Antigen Tests.

    • Reporting of positive or negative antibody test results is no longer required.
  6. Does a school district need to have access to lab-based molecular follow-up tests? A two-tier testing strategy is recommended for all schools that conduct rapid, point-of-care antigen testing. Schools conducting testing under the DHS statewide standing order for point-of-care tests will be required to complete an attestation form and plan to facilitate access to confirmatory PCR testing as needed. Schools can work with their matched program vendor to facilitate access to lab-based molecular follow-up tests, a second type of rapid point-of-care test, or refer staff and students to:


211 Wisconsin

Call 211 or 877-947-2211 to get referrals for thousands of services across Wisconsin. For COVID-19 questions, text COVID to 211-211. Language assistance is available.

Resilient Wisconsin

Get help learning how to manage stress and adapt to change with services and support from organizations across the state.

Helpful resources

Find help with housing, income, food, employment, health care, mental health concerns, safety at home, and more—in multiple languages.
Last revised October 20, 2022