Preliminary Reach of an Information Technology Approach to Support COVID-19 Testing in Schools

Pediatrics. 2023 Jul 1;152(Suppl 1):e2022060352E. doi: 10.1542/peds.2022-060352E.


Objectives: SCALE-UP Counts tests population health management interventions to promote coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing in kindergarten through 12th-grade schools that serve populations that have been historically marginalized.

Methods: Within 6 participating schools, we identified 3506 unique parents/guardians who served as the primary contact for at least 1 student. Participants were randomized to text messaging (TM), text messaging + health navigation (HN) (TM + HN), or usual care. Bidirectional texts provided COVID-19 symptom screening, along with guidance on obtaining and using tests as appropriate. If parents/guardians in the TM + HN group were advised to test their child but either did not test or did not respond to texts, they were called by a trained health navigator to address barriers.

Results: Participating schools served a student population that was 32.9% non-white and 15.4% Hispanic, with 49.6% of students eligible to receive free lunches. Overall, 98.8% of parents/guardians had a valid cell phone, of which 3.8% opted out. Among the 2323 parents/guardians included in the intervention, 79.6% (n = 1849) were randomized to receive TM, and 19.1% (n = 354) engaged with TM (ie, responded to at least 1 message). Within the TM + HN group (40.1%, n = 932), 1.3% (n = 12) qualified for HN at least once, of which 41.7% (n = 5) talked to a health navigator.

Conclusions: TM and HN are feasible ways to reach parents/guardians of kindergarten through 12th-grade students to provide COVID-19 screening messages. Strategies to improve engagement may strengthen the impact of the intervention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Information Technology
  • Schools
  • Text Messaging*