COVID-19 Child Care Testing Information
Child Care COVID-19 Screening Testing for Staff
The state is continuing to prioritize low-barrier, free testing opportunities for child care providers. Child care providers have been on the front lines since the beginning of this pandemic. Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan are grateful to all those who come to work every single day and risk virus exposure to care for and educate our youngest Minnesotans and support our communities’ needs. They and other state leaders want to ensure that child care providers and staff are prioritized for testing, regardless of symptoms. The state’s Education and Child Care COVID Response Workgroup and the Testing COVID Response Workgroup thank you for your interest in using testing to screen your staff. Using testing as a screening tool can help decrease the risk of spread between staff, those you care for, and the families and communities that rely on you.
Here is what screening COVID-19 testing means for child care providers:
- We encourage Minnesotans, including child care staff to be tested regularly, regardless of symptoms. In addition to the onsite program described below, testing through Minnesota’s community sites and at-home tests is available to all child care providers in Minnesota, and state residents. You can make an appointment or order a test mn.gov/covid19.
- The onsite testing program and other state testing options are no-cost to child care providers; insurance will not be billed for the onsite program.
- Testing is optional and not a requirement to operate child care programs.
- Test results are provided to the individual tested (in onsite program, to the employee).
- These testing options, including the onsite program, depends on continued funding.
Onsite Testing Program
In prioritizing low-barrier testing for child care, the state created an onsite COVID-19 screening testing for certain child care providers who wish to participate. The program involves receiving saliva test kits for testing of staff onsite every other week. This optional program is limited to sites with 15+ staff onsite who agree to the program expectations (described below). This strategy was based on a pilot that considered frequency of testing, child care provider size, geography, demography, and previous outbreaks.
Eligibility for Onsite Testing Program
The onsite testing program is limited to child care programs with at least 15 staff onsite and to those who agree to the requirements below. Other programs may utilize the State’s community testing sites or the at-home saliva testing program. This program is optional.
Requirements & Compliance
To participate in this optional program, child care providers must:
- Designate at least two Testing Coordinators onsite (responsibilities in section below, including completing collection reports).
- Require leadership and Testing Coordinators to participate in training.
- Ensure staff testing occurs every other week (~10 minutes for each staff member to get tested).
- Pick-up of testing kits at a specified distribution site.
- Mail kits at a local UPS store, direct drop box.
- Ensure that necessary public health guidance in the program is followed.
- Not be sites located at public or charter schools with any in-person or hybrid instruction, as these sites will be asked to use the school’s onsite testing.
Failure to demonstrate high participation and commitment to testing will result in termination of program participation and will limit the provider’s future ability to participate in the program. Any unused tests may be reclaimed by the state for reallocation.
Participating child care providers (leadership and testing coordinators) are required to participate in a virtual training on how to organize and complete the testing process. This virtual training will be organized and presented by the state or one of our training partners. The testing coordinator guide, training slides and virtual training are linked below.
Each child care provider is required to appoint a Testing Coordinator for its facility. This person will have the following responsibilities:
- Coordinate the testing of staff every other week;
- Ensure that all safety measures are followed during testing/sample collection;
- Be present and assist on testing day:
- Verify that each person has not had anything to eat, drink, or smoke and has not chewed gum in the 30 minutes prior to taking the test;
- Assist with technical questions and common errors with the application, be familiar with troubleshooting;
- And provide each staff member with a saliva testing kit and collect completed kits.
- Package and mail the completed kits. Use this UPS locator tool to find a convenient UPS drop off point for samples. Do NOT drop your sample at an access point or pharmacy UPS drop box — only use a UPS physical location or UPS direct drop box.
- Complete and submit the Collection Report.
Considerations when adopting the onsite testing program:
- Awaiting Results and Quarantine: Staff/providers who participate in COVID testing and have no symptoms and no known exposure can continue to work while awaiting test results. Operations would not be interrupted while waiting for test results.
- Results and Program Impact: Test results from State saliva testing sites are typically available within 48 hours of being received. Child care providers should consider utilizing testing at the end of the week (Thursday) to obtain the results before the next week of care. If a test is positive, the weekend would then apply to the quarantine period for close contacts in the classroom.
- Participating Programs: For programs that wish to participate in the onsite screening testing program and who have a majority of staff who will participate, the State can provide language that can be shared with families electronically or printed to educate families on providers’ COVID safety plans and commitment to keeping everyone healthy.
Other things to remember
- Staff with symptoms or those who have been exposed to COVID-19 should not report to work and be in quarantine according to public health guidance. Read more here.
- Test results are provided via email or phone – so staff should be sure to provide an email that is checked regularly. Test results are usually emailed within 48 hours after the lab receives the test.
- If the test result is positive for COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will call the individual tested with important health information for their household. It is important staff answer the call from MDH to help keep themselves, family, and community safe.
- The test results are confidential unless permission is given to MDH to share the individual’s name. In certain circumstances, MDH may need to share names with a workplace, school, or child care provider to protect the health and safety of others. MDH will attempt to contact the individual prior to doing so.
- Child care guidance is available at mn.gov/childcare.
Training and Other Resources
Registration is now open. We look forward to your partnership as we work together to keep our child care providers and our littlest Minnesotans safe from COVID-19. For more information, please go to https://mn.gov/childcare.