Publication date: Sep 22, 2023
American Indian communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with school closures exacerbating health and education disparities. Project SafeSchools’ COVID-19 school-based testing program utilized federal and state funding to provide weekly pooled testing with follow-up rapid antigen testing to students and staff from the White Mountain Apache Tribe and Navajo Nation. The project provided partner schools with training and continual logistical and technical support to aid in school-based testing and adherence to state and local reporting requirements. Using the EPIS (Exploration, Preparation, Implementation, and Sustainment) framework, we identified facilitators and barriers to successful program function. While community support and buy-in were essential for successfully implementing school-based testing in these communities, communication, school staff turnover, and funding are among the most significant challenges. Community partnerships in American Indian communities involving schools and local health authorities can successfully implement testing protocols by remaining flexible and working together to maintain strong lines of communication.