Some San Diego area schools are testing wastewater, floors for coronavirus

Feb 17, 2021

UC San Diego has created a wastewater and surface coronavirus testing program designed specifically for schools in disadvantaged communities hard-hit by COVID.

The testing not only allows for faster results than traditional COVID testing, but UC San Diego researchers say it could be less costly and easier to implement in communities with families who may not want their children tested in schools, out of fear or a lack of trust.

For months, UC San Diego has had a wastewater testing program on its campus that detects shed pieces of the novel coronavirus in feces.

In November, the university started working with San Diego County to extend that program to some K-12 schools and child care centers, said Rebecca Fielding-Miller, assistant public health professor at UCSD who is leading the school testing program.


Here’s how it works: a robot that looks like a large canister is installed at each school. It collects samples of wastewater daily to be tested for coronavirus at a UC San Diego lab. Child care staff also send in used diapers for UCSD to test fecal samples of children who are not yet potty-trained.

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