Some of the rapid coronavirus tests that Seattle Public Schools began using this month list expiration dates that have already passed, but those tests have been granted expiration extensions and have been cleared for use by federal and state health officials, the district says.
The district received 60,000 Abbott BinaxNOW rapid tests from the Washington State Department of Health on Dec. 29, and began using the tests on Jan. 2. Between 45,000 and 50,000 tests have been used to date, district spokesperson Tim Robinson said Wednesday.
The expiration dates on the tests vary, and at least some of the dates have passed, Robinson said. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved requests from Abbott in May 2021 and earlier this month to extend the authorized shelf-life of the company’s BinaxNOW tests.
The Department of Health has authorized partners like Seattle Public Schools to use the tests past their original expiration dates, “making sure to follow all quality control guidelines prior to and during the usage for each product,” Robinson said. A small percentage of tests used by the district to date have been discarded for failing the quality control guidelines, he said.
Around 4% of more than 14,000 students and staffers who participated in the district’s rapid testing clinics during the first week of January tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to the district. Seattle Public Schools has about 50,000 students and 7,800 staff.
“The health, safety and well-being of students and staff has our been our top priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Robinson said. “The ability to effectively offer testing to our Seattle Public Schools community has been an essential and valuable part of our mitigation strategy.”