coronavirus in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s comprehensive school testing program is now open and able to provide prompt results to any student, teacher, or staff member at any public or private Pre-K – 12 school throughout the state who needs to be tested for COVID-19, the Rhode Island Department of Health announced this morning.

A test can be scheduled seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. by calling 844-857-1814. This scheduling line is only for PreK – 12 students, teachers, and staff who have symptoms, or who have been directed to get a test because they were a close contact of someone who is positive. Services are available in multiple languages.

“Consistent with the strategic, aggressive approach we have taken to COVID-19 testing over the last several months, Rhode Island has developed one of the broadest, most comprehensive school testing programs in the country,” said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) in the press release. “We have the infrastructure to run 5,000 tests a day for students, teachers, and staff, which will allow us to rapidly identify cases of COVID-19 and get people into quarantine and isolation right away. This will be key to minimizing disruptions to school communities and making this academic year a success for all students and schools throughout Rhode Island.”

“Getting our students back to school sends a powerful message about how important education is to Rhode Island,” said Angélica Infante-Green, Commissioner of the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in the press release. “The work our colleagues have done to organize and implement school-focused COVID testing is a powerful tool in our efforts to return students safely to their classrooms. Efforts like this allow educators to do what they do best — teach our students.”

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 will get two tests. The results of the first test, which is a rapid test, will be available the same day. A second, more definitive test (a PCR test) will also be done. The results of this second test will be available within an average of 48 hours. A person who does not have symptoms but who is being tested because they were a close contact of someone with COVID-19 will only get the more definitive PCR test.

People will be able to schedule a test at one of 14 sites throughout Rhode Island. A full list of the testing sites is available online. People can either make drive-up appointments or walk-up appointments. Appointments can be scheduled by parents, guardians, teachers, staff members, and students older than 16 years old. A parent or guardian must go to the test site with any child who is younger than 16. Instructions on how to get test results is available online in EnglishSpanish, and Portuguese.

If a student, teacher, or staff member tests positive

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to return to school and will need to isolate for at least 10 days after the first day they developed symptoms. That person can return to school after 10 days if they have been fever-free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine and if their symptoms have improved. If someone tests positive but does not have symptoms of COVID-19, they must isolate for 10 days after receiving their PCR test result.

People who test positive will receive these instructions directly from RIDOH. A RIDOH staff member will also do an interview over the phone as part of a case investigation. This interview will include questions about the travel history and close contacts of the person who tested positive. The case investigation will involve close coordination between RIDOH and school officials.

If a student, teacher, or staff member tests negative

Anyone who gets tested for COVID-19 should expect to be out of school or work for a period of time, even if their result is negative. If someone tests negative but was a close contact of a positive case, the person who tested negative still needs to complete their 14-day quarantine period. If the person who tested negative was not a close contact (for example, someone who was tested only because they had COVID-19 like symptoms) they can go back to school after symptoms have improved and they have been fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication.

Additional Resources

  • More information about testing for Pre-K – 12 students, teachers, and staff is available online: English | Spanish | Portuguese
  • More information about reopening Rhode Island’s schools, district learning plans, and Pre-K-12 outbreak response protocols is available at
  • General information about testing (non Pre-K – 12) is available online.
  • General information about COVID-19 is available online.

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