Yes, Kids Can Fake COVID-19 Test Results To Get Out of School

TikTok hacks reportedly taught teenagers how to break at-home lateral flow COVID-19 tests to get false-postive results. While this hack was most popular with teens in the United Kingdom, here's what all parents need to know.

A close up of a lateral flow home testing kit
Photo: EllenMoran/Getty Images

As if the coronavirus pandemic didn't disrupt kids' education enough, some students initiated scams that caused a chain of school quarantines. Indeed, teens reportedly faked positive COVID-19 tests results as a way to get out of going to school. The move sidelined many of their classmates in the process.

According to the British outlet i, teens in the United Kingdom were using droplets of acidic liquids like Coca Cola, vinegar, and orange juice to break their lateral flow at-home COVID-19 test into displaying what read like a positive result. Schools in the UK recommended students use these at-home test kits weekly before they attended class. A TikTok video explaining this hack was viewed more than 2.5 million times since it was uploaded in April 2021. There are reports that the videos have been removed.

The fact-checking website confirms that lateral flow tests (like the at-home BinaxNow tests in the United States) can be "broken" to simulate a positive result with highly acidic samples like soda or oranges. When used correctly, rapid tests are very unlikely to return a false positive result.

The newspaper went on to explain that when a school does require a negative at-home COVID test for attendance, they might also require a follow-up PCR test upon positive results. Students who get a negative PCR test result after a positive lateral flow test are allowed back into school without isolating. Officials in England suggested parents observe their teens while they take their at-home COVID-19 tests, just in case.

So could your child possibly fake a COVID-19 test to stay home from school? Yes. And it could affect their classmates, too.

What U.S. Parents Need to Know

In the U.S., school rules surrounding COVID-19 testing often come down to local decision makers. Your school may allow rapid testing at home, meaning your child may be able to pull off the scam.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does suggest testing at schools. Many school leaders are aware of the ability to fake COVID-19 test results and have put in policies to avoid that, such as requiring rapid testing to be done on site or demanding a PCR test.

Depending on the school's rules, the child's vaccination status, and their COVID-19 history, students in close contact with a positive case may be required to isolate or quarantine before returning to school. Isolating is for when you've had the virus; quarantining is for when you've been exposed to someone with it. These guidelines could apply to an entire classroom, or just a few students. The length of time away from school also varies, as some districts allow students to return with a negative COVID-19 test result after several days.

In short, it's good to be aware that some children may be able to fake at-home COVID-19 test results. That can drive you to ensure your child follows testing rules, and to stay on top of your schools policies for testing, isolation, and quarantine.

Also, remember that best way to lessen risk is for all eligible people in a community to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and exceedingly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles