Background: Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This study's goal was to assess the effectiveness of 2 messaging strategies on participation in SARS-CoV-2 weekly testing. Methods: Cluster randomized trials were conducted at 2 school systems, the special school district (SSD) and Kennedy Krieger Institute (Kennedy) to assess messaging strategies, general versus enhanced, to increase weekly screening for SARS-CoV-2. Testing was offered to staff and students from November 23, 2020 to May 26, 2022. The primary outcomes were percentage of students and staff consented weekly and percentage of study participants who had a test performed weekly. Generalized estimating equation models were utilized to evaluate the primary outcomes. Results: Increases in enrollment and testing occurred during study start up, the beginning of school years, and following surges in both systems. No statistical difference was observed in the primary outcomes between schools receiving standard versus enhanced messaging. Implications for School Health Policy, Practice, and Equity: Frequent and consistent communication is vital for families and staff. Weekly screening testing within schools is possible and highlighted the importance of utilizing equitable protocols to provide important testing to students with IDD. Conclusion: Enhanced messaging strategies did not increase the number of participants enrolled or the percentage of enrolled participants being tested on a weekly basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-561
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • COVID-19
  • communication strategies
  • infectious diseases
  • intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • public health


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