Success Story: “It Lifted the Fear”

How a district pulled off 100% in-person learning without fear

February 17, 2021

The Case for Testing

One of the participants in our pilot program was a school district consisting of seven schools with a total of about 3,000 students. They were one of only a few school districts with all students in person. When we asked why, they replied that they didn’t feel they had a choice, citing rising suicide rates in their state and in the nation. But, as the superintendent told us, “I can’t keep it going. I can’t sustain it if I don’t test.”

The Testing Process

“People’s morale was the highest it’s been since March 13.” The superintendent told us that the entire community was enthusiastic about participating in testing—including students, parents, and teachers. “It lifted the fear… people were smiling, were bouncing around… really for the next week we lived on this little high,” said the superintendent.

The superintendent told us that they were particularly pleased with the “very tight turnaround” and summed it all up by saying “do I think we were successful? Yes.”

The Big Impact

Opening schools at 100% capacity is often framed as a zero sum game. Either students miss out on education (and some, on access to vital services) or teachers and staff have to risk coming to work during a deadly pandemic. This success story shows that, with testing, it’s possible to have peace of mind and in-person learning. The district received no positive test results and the confidence that came from that knowledge made all the difference.

Testing lifted the fear, boosted morale, and made people feel like they could go back to normal. As the superintendent said, “It felt the most normal it has felt for a long time on that day.”