Case Study

Tucson Unified School District’s COVID-19 testing program establishes 100 locations in just 2 months


students and staff given
access to PCR pooled testing


testing locations rolled
out over two months

Program snapshot

  • Rapid antigen individual testing for positive pools
  • Live testing demonstration for concerned parents and guardians
  • Centralized administrator role to implement and manage program

Notable outcomes

  • Translated family outreach communications into six primary languages
  • Established Test Champions outside of the nursing staff at every location

A phased rollout approach was key. We rolled out across 100+ locations over a two-month timespan, starting with our early adopters…We were able to learn from them as we scaled.

Leslie Lenhart, Director of Communications at Tucson Unified School District


Managing public health for 42,000 students

The sheer size of Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) made COVID-19 testing an enormous task. District leaders had to navigate the logistics of managing 100 test sites, finding test-day volunteers, and engaging multilingual families on the importance of testing.


Scaling across 100 locations in 6 languages

Launching 100 test sites at once was out of the question; a phased two-month rollout would allow TUSD to fine tune the program as it scaled. Alongside nursing staff on the front lines, office admins, teachers, vice principals and others all pitched in to help stand up the program.

TUSD’s rich diversity called for an extra degree of care around parent outreach. Communications were translated into six primary languages for Hispanic, African, and Middle Eastern families where English is a second language. The translations, as well as compelling visual aids and live demonstrations, helped parents grasp the importance of granting consent.

As of November 2021, testing has expanded to all 89 schools and 11 administrative buildings.


With fear phased out, confidence steps in

Lessons from early adopters have honed the district’s approach as it has progressed. As of November 2021, testing has expanded to all 89 schools and 11 administrative buildings. The results allow TUSD to track progress and compare positivity rates to what’s going on across Tucson, giving families peace of mind that school leaders can make informed decisions about policies that impact their children’s health.