Acceptance of Saliva-Based Specimen Collection for SARS-CoV-2 Testing Among K-12 Students, Teachers, and Staff

SARS-CoV-2 Specimen Collection Field Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Saliva specimens collected in school populations may offer a more feasible, noninvasive alternative to nasal swabs for large-scale COVID-19 testing efforts in kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) schools. We investigated acceptance of saliva-based COVID-19 testing among quarantined K-12 students and their parents, teachers, and staff members who recently experienced a SARS-CoV-2 exposure in school. METHODS: We surveyed 719 participants, in person or by telephone, who agreed to or declined a free saliva-based COVID-19 reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction test as part of a surveillance investigation about whether they would have consented to testing if offered a nasal swab instead. We conducted this investigation in 6 school districts in Greene County (n = 3) and St. Louis County (n = 3), Missouri, from January 25 through March 23, 2021. RESULTS: More than one-third (160 of 446) of K-12 students (or their parents or guardians), teachers, and staff members who agreed to a saliva-based COVID-19 test indicated they would have declined testing if specimen collection were by nasal swab. When stratified by school level, 51% (67 of 132) of elementary school students or their parents or guardians would not have agreed to testing if a nasal swab was offered. CONCLUSIONS: Some students, especially those in elementary school, preferred saliva-based COVID-19 testing to nasal swab testing. Use of saliva-based testing might increase voluntary participation in screening efforts in K-12 schools to help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-563
Number of pages7
JournalPublic health reports (Washington, D.C. : 1974)
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • COVID-19
  • K-12 schools
  • saliva-based testing
  • school health
  • screening


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