Ask 2: Are schools allowed to test your children for COVID-19 without your permission?

COVID-19 Response representative Hadja Bah administers a test to a child, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, in Marietta, Ga. When Marietta City Schools started the 2021-2022 school year, the Georgia district that serves 9,000 quickly had to quarantine about 10% of its students and staff. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart) (Mike Stewart, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTONAt KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.

Question: Are schools allowed to test your children for COVID-19 without your permission?

Answer: Schools are not permitted to test children for COVID-19 without parent or guardian consent. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention addresses this question on its website here. “Staff will not be tested without consent. Students will not be tested without the consent of both the student and their guardian,” the website reads.

Locally, KPRC 2 reached out for more information from a sampling of districts for how testing is being conducted. Here are some of the answers we received from the districts surveyed:

Aldine Independent School District

Each campus has a testing opportunity weekly or biweekly. A parent/guardian must consent for testing. No specific conditions are warranted. The opportunity is offered to all campus students and staff who have consented and would like to be tested. -- Valonia Walker, Aldine ISD senior communications specialist

Clear Creek Independent School District

“We do not test students on campus.” -- Elaina Polsen, CCISD Chief Communications Officer

Conroe Independent School District

“We do not test students for COVID-19 on campus. We do have limited slots available for students at our District testing location, but a parent/guardian must be present to sign the consent form. You can view details here.” -- Sarah Blakelock, Conroe ISD director of communications

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District

Our standard practice is to refer CFISD students and staff to the three CFISD testing centers; however, last fall, we offered testing at two campuses one day due to an increased incidence of COVID-19 in a student group. The testing was optional and required parental consent.” -- Leslie Francis, CFISD assistant superintendent for communication and community relations

Pearland Independent School District

“Pearland ISD is continuing its partnership with (Texas Education Agency) and approved vendors to provide testing, free of cost, to students as supplies are available. COVID-19 testing on campus is never required. It is an opportunity to identify positive cases if COVID-19 symptoms are present quickly and conveniently. A consent form must be on file for a student to be tested. Pearland ISD staff that determine the need for testing, will call the parent or guardian prior to testing, even when written consent is on file.” -- Cissa Madero, Pearland ISD communications specialist

Spring Independent School District

“We currently do not conduct COVID-19 testing on our campuses. For clarity, we do have testing hosted by Inspire Diagnostics that is open to the public at our Community Engagement Center and Child Nutrition building, and the mega site hosted by Harris County Public Health at Planet Ford Stadium.” -- Kristen Cobb, Spring ISD director of communications

Spring Branch Independent School District

The district does conduct tests on-campus for COVID-19 with the consent of a parent/guardian if a student has COVID-19 symptoms. -- Terry Abbott, SBISD executive director communications and community engagement

KPRC 2 also reached out to Houston Independent School District, Humble Independent School District, and Galveston Independent School District, but did not hear back as of this writing.

If you have questions about your child’s school, we recommend calling the district for more information on their current policy.

Do you have an H-Town-related question? Send it our way, and we will try to hunt down an answer.


About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.