SchoolOutbreakResponseTeams School Outbreak Response Teams

School Outbreak Response Teams

CDPH is supporting outbreak response at the local level. Local health departments and local education agencies (LEAs) are encouraged to keep rapidly accessible over-the-counter (OTC)/ at-home antigen tests available to assist K-12 schools with campus outbreaks. Local health departments can also provide specific advice if guidance is needed. The definition of a K-12 school outbreak can be found in the CDPH Non-Healthcare Congregate Facilities COVID-19 Outbreak Definitions and Reporting Guidance for Local Health Departments. 

How does a School Prepare for a Potential Outbreak?

  • Designate a reliable single point of contact to consult with the local health department in the event of an outbreak.
  • Testing continues to be a key component to detecting and reducing the spread of COVID-19 in K-12 Schools. California K-12 schools can join a no-cost CDPH COVID-19 testing program to prepare to test in the event of an outbreak.   
  • CDPH recommends that schools order enough OTC/ at-home tests to cover normal testing needs for at least 4 weeks.
  • In addition, the LEA, in conjunction with local health department, should make a local plan and request, if needed, an extra supply of OTC/at-home tests to distribute to students and/or staff in the event of an outbreak from CDPH. 
  • If increased testing in an outbreak starts to use this extra outbreak supply, reorder immediately, as replacement tests may take a week or more to arrive. 
  • If OTC/at-home tests are performed on those other than the individual themselves or by parents/guardians on their children, they are subject to federal laboratory regulations ("CLIA"). If you plan to use antigen tests in a scenario where staff performs tests on others, your organization needs to apply for CDPH Professional Antigen program that gives your school a CLIA waiver. To join CDPH's School Based On-Site Professional Antigen Testing Program, please complete the School Antigen Onboarding Intake Form.

Who Do We Ask for Help with a School Outbreak?

Schools with questions about increased cases on their campus or possible outbreaks should contact their local health department.  Their local health department can provide the school with guidance to assist the school with their outbreak response. This will include specific guidance on the school's next steps for outbreak response and may include supplemental tests if the school does not have an adequate supply.

For complex school outbreaks, local health departments can request consultations from the CDPH Outbreak Consultation Team (

COEs are also encouraged to keep a back-up supply of OTC/at-home tests for outbreak response.  Keeping tests locally will provide quicker access for outbreak response than waiting for shipments directly from the CDPH.

Learn more so you are prepared

  • School staff are encouraged to enroll in a free 2-hour seminar, Case Studies in Outbreak Management in K-12 Schools.  You will learn best practices for identifying and controlling a potential outbreak. Register at the California Virtual Training Academy or email for more information.


For additional questions on school outbreak response or if you need assistance in connecting to your local health department or COE, please contact us via email at: or

​​​Originally published August 19, 2021