The Missing Piece — SARS-CoV-2 Testing and School Reopening

(This op-ed was first published in The New England Journal of Medicine on October 21, 2020.)

Michelle Mello

On August 17, 2020, the Los Angeles Unified School District launched a program to test more than 700,000 students and staff for SARS-CoV-2. The district is paying a private contractor to provide next-day, early-morning results for as many as 40,000 tests daily. As of October 4, a total of 34,833 people had been tested at 42 sites. The program is notable not only because it’s ambitious, but also because it’s unusual: testing is conspicuously absent from school reopening plans in many other districts. Typically, exhaustive attention has instead focused on physical distancing, face coverings, hygiene, staggering of schedules, and cohorting (dividing students into small, fixed groups).

(Continue reading the op-ed on The New England Journal of Medicine’s page here.)

Michelle Mello (BA ’93) is a leading empirical health law scholar whose research is focused on understanding the effects of law and regulation on health care delivery and population health outcomes. She holds a joint appointment at the Stanford University School of Medicine in the Department of Medicine.