Welcome to the Color COVID-19
Testing Program, in partnership
with the California Department
of Public Health
We’re excited to help you set up your testing program to keep your community safe.
Once you’ve signed up, we’ll send you emails to begin onboarding. Here’s an overview
of how you’ll run your program:
Onboarding & Site Setup
These pages detail the steps and decisions necessary to complete onboarding and set up your testing programs.
Understand your testing type
We’re proud to offer several different testing options. Depending on your organization,
your testing program may be offering one of the following:
testing (individual or pooled)
- Molecular tests will be monitored by onsite staff
- Reflex testing not required
Monitored antigen testing with reflex to monitored molecular testing
testing with reflex to unmonitored molecular testing
Identify your testing team
It takes a team to run an effective testing program, and we recommend
selecting people from across your organization for the roles below.
Responsible for identifying collection sites and the site lead for each collection site.
- Staff management “site manager” role, to manage team member access sample collection
- Results dashboards for all sites
- Access management, to edit team member access to dashboards
Responsible for all testing at a collection site and setting up at-home testing. They identify testing administrators, distribute testing supplies, and prepare molecular samples for shipment to the lab.
Monitored antigen testing: responsible for ensuring all testing administrators complete training, performing the necessary antigen test kit qualification, and maintaining quality control logs.
Unmonitored (at-home) antigen testing: responsible for providing Color with an eligibility file with all eligible at-home testing participants. Color will share a link to upload this file via email after onboarding.
- Staff management “site manager” role, to manage team member access to sample collection
- Results dashboard for their site
- Access management, to edit team member access to dashboards
Testing administrators set up testing stations and oversee sample collection. They’ll use Color to record which participants provide samples. At least one testing administrator should be selected for each testing station.
Testing administrators at monitored antigen testing sites are required to complete Color’s antigen testing training program.
- Staff management “site staff” role
Participants are the individuals who register, consent, and provide samples for testing. For participants under 12 years of age, a parent or guardian must register and provide consent on their behalf. Participants may test at your testing site or at home, depending on your program.
Sign up for Color accounts
All staff must create Color accounts. Here’s how it works:
- Head to home.color.com/create-account.
Enter your organization email, and set up a password. We’ll send an email to confirm your email address once you’ve created your account. After confirming, your account is ready for use.
- If you’re a molecular testing organization lead nominating team members, head to home.color.com/admin, select the site you’d like to add team members to, and choose the staff management tool.
How to create a Color account
How to use the staff management tool
Managing your staff
You can provide, edit, and remove permissions for testing team members to use Color by logging into your account. Organization district directors and site school leads should be given “site manager” roles and testing administrators should be given “site staff” roles.
On testing days
For monitored programs, testing administrators will log into Color via home.color.com/admin – we suggest bookmarking this link.
If you need a Color account, please contact your organization lead. If you haven’t received a confirmation email, check your spam folder.
Order test kits and return shipping materials
Color will automatically ship your initial molecular kits and ship-back materials. CDPH will coordinate shipping your initial antigen kits to your sites. After your first shipment, you’ll be responsible for ordering additional materials via our ALOM portal. Site administrators will receive access and instructions for this tool via email. You can use our inventory template to determine how much to order.
Onsite Individual Molecular Test Kits
- Barcode card
- Small sample biohazard bag
- Absorbent pad
Source-Pooling Test Kits
- Six individually packaged swabs
- One biohazard bag
- One absorbent pad
Unmonitored Individual Molecular Test Kits
- Barcode card
- Instructions for activation, collection, and return
- Biohazard bag and return shipping mailer
Do not use bleach products near sample collection kits. Color sample collection kits use PrimeStore transport media (the small amount of liquid in each tube) to stabilize and inactivate the virus. This media contains guanidine thiocyanate, which produces a dangerous chemical reaction that releases cyanide gas when exposed to bleach (sodium hypochlorite).
For more information, click here.
Get additional materials
Be sure to have these on hand before you begin collecting samples. Depending on what type of testing you are offering, Color may provide some of these materials for you. The program director and site leads will receive a list of these materials via email after onboarding.
Hand sanitizer, a waste bin, and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Each testing station should have enough hand sanitizer for all participants and testing administrators to sanitize their hands before and after providing a sample or touching the sample collection tubes.
- Use a waste bin at each testing station to collect swab packaging.
- Biohazard waste bins should be used to properly dispose of all positive antigen tests.
- Make PPE available per your district’s guidelines and any state or local recommendations.
- Color’s software requires internet connectivity via WiFi or cellular service.
- If you’re using WiFi-only devices like laptops or tablets, make sure you have strong and reliable WiFi coverage in your testing area.
- If your WiFi isn’t reliable, we recommend using portable hotspots from a cellular network provider, like this Verizon Jetpack® MiFi® 8800L.
- If you’re planning on using cellular devices, like a WiFi + Cellular iPad, be sure to select the appropriate cellular network provider that provides the best coverage for your area, like AT&T or Verizon.
Tablets and/or laptops
- Each site administrator should have their own device on testing days.
- We recommend using the latest version of Google Chrome on your devices.
- iPads must be running iOS 13 or iOS 14. For example, the 10.2” Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad, model MYN32LL/A works well. We recommend you also download the Google Chrome iOS app.
- Android tablets must be running Android version 9, 10, or 11 with the latest updates and the latest version of Google Chrome. For example, the Samsung tablets, such as the Galaxy Tab A 8.4” Cellular, work well.
- We recommend using scanners to automatically capture barcodes and ensure samples are matched to the correct participants. If scanners are not functional for any reason, or if you don’t have access to scanners, you are able to input the information manually.
- If you are using an iPad, we recommend using the ScanKey iOS app which enables usage of the iPad’s camera as the barcode scanner from within the virtual keyboard interface.
- If you are using a handheld scanner, the scanner must scan one-dimensional (1D) barcode labels. We recommend using wired USB scanners, because wireless or bluetooth scanners can be difficult to pair and ensure connectivity throughout the day.
- Be sure to maintain the battery levels of your devices throughout testing days to enable continuous usage. It is important to remember to charge devices overnight before testing days, and consider charging overnight.
- iPads will require at least a 12-watt (2.4 amp) USB power adapter. If supporting multiple iPads or other USB-charged devices, we recommend using a multi-port USB charger.
Set up registration and testing stations
The collection site should have stations for registration and testing. Registration stations are where participants or their parent/guardian register for testing, and testing stations are where they provide their samples. Monitored antigen testing sites should also have a designated station for recording test results.
These are the materials you’ll need for each registration station:
- Tablets or computers, fully charged
- Hand sanitizer
These are the materials you’ll need for each testing station:
- Test kits
- Hand sanitizer
- Waste bin
Invite participants to register for Color
When it’s time to engage your testing community, we recommend that you use the email templates on the Resources page to invite participants to register for Color.
Every participant visiting a collection site must register for Color before testing. For minors, a parent/guardian must register on their behalf to provide consent.
Participants in unmonitored testing programs do not need to register – instead, they will be identified via an eligibility file provided to Color after onboarding.
How participants register and receive results
Participants at monitored collection sites or their parents/guardians can register one of two ways:
1. Using their own device
Before testing day Color will email school leads two separate registration links (URLs), one for staff and one for students, so participants or their parents/guardians can register for testing in advance at home.
Organization leads can turn registration links (URLs) into QR codes to print and post at the collection site so participants or their parents/guardians can register in advance.
To create a QR code, head to qrcode-monkey.com, enter your URL, click “Generate QR Code”, then “Download PNG”.
2. With assistance
For participants or parents/guardians without access to technology or who need additional assistance, organizations can set up a device on site that can be used to access the registration links.
Organizations can set up a hotline, staffed by people familiar with the registration process that can provide additional support.
Collecting & Shipping Samples
How to collect individual samples
Here are the step-by-step instructions for collecting monitored individual PCR samples:
- Head to home.color.com/covid-admin and sign in to Color
- Select your site and “COVID-19 individual lab testing”.
- Search and select the name of the participant. Verify their date of birth, then select “Patient Arrived.”
- Remove a tube from its biohazard bag and scan or type in the tube’s barcode. Select the specimen type (most often this is anterior nares). Confirm and continue.
- Walk the participant through sample collection and click “Complete.”
- Ensure the participant puts the swab in the tube, caps the tube tightly, and seals the tube in its small biohazard bag.
Here are step-by-step instructions for collecting source-pooled samples:
- Head to home.color.com/covid-admin and sign in to Color
- Select your site and “COVID-19 pooled testing”
- Remove a tube from the biohazard bag and scan or type in the tube’s barcode. Confirm and continue.
- Unscrew the top of the tube and place the tube in a tube holder.
- Search and select all participants providing samples (between 2-6 samples) for this pool and hit continue. Each participant should be present.
- Walk each participant through sample collection.
- Click “Finish this Pool” to close out the group of samples.
- Enter optional label name(s) and click continue. Labels appear in your results dashboard and should describe the group you’re testing, like “Grade 2A” or “Afterschool Program.”
- Screw the tube top on tightly and place the tube in its biohazard bag with the absorbent pad. Seal the bag.
- Place up to five sealed biohazard pages into a return shipping bag (white with UN3373 printed on it).
How to collect source-pooled samples
How to conduct a rapid test
Here are step-by-step instructions for collecting monitored antigen testing samples:
- Head to home.color.com/covid-admin and sign in to Color.
- Select your site and “COVID-19 rapid testing”.
- Search and select the name of the participant. Click “Confirm”.
- Walk the participant through sample collection and conduct the test per the manufacturer instructions.
- Wait for the test to process.
- Search and select the name of the participant in the “collected” list. Enter and confirm results.
Here are step-by-step instructions for collecting at-home antigen testing samples:
- Follow manufacturer instructions on taking a rapid antigen test. We recommend setting a timer to record your results between 15 and 30 minutes after swabbing.
- Head to https://home.color.com/covid/self-reporting and sign in to Color.
- Select “Report a Result” and navigate to where you upload a result.
- Review and fill in any required information, and click “Continue”.
- You’ll receive confirmation of your completed result upload.
Here are the step-by-step instructions for collecting at-home individual PCR samples:
- Activate your kit online at color.com/covid/activate.
- Follow the instructions to complete the pre-test survey and consent to testing. When prompted, enter your kit’s Barcode and Accession Number. You will receive confirmation that your kit has been activated.
- Complete the Color PCR test kit, following the instructions outlined in the kit. When ready, your results will be sent to you via email and/or SMS depending on your preference. Make sure to ship your kit on the same day you collect your sample using the prepaid FedEx shipping label.
Here are step-by-step instructions for packing and shipping samples:
- Create a manifest for your shipment
- Color’s batch shipping tool creates a manifest number for each lab shipment.
- Or, fill out the paper manifest included in your return shipper kit.
- Gather all white return shipping bags from the testing stations each day
- How to pack samples
- Be sure each tube is in a sealed biohazard bag with the absorbent pad inside
- Place up to five sealed biohazard bags into a white return shipping bag
- Write the manifest number on the outside of the bag, include the manifest(s) in the bag, and seal.
- Place up to ten large biohazard bags inside the return shipping box. Skip this step if you’re using the COVID-19 Courier Network.
- Write the manifest number(s) on the outside of the package.
- Adhere the UN 3373 sticker and if applicable, shipping label.
How to ship your samples to the lab
(FedEx, UPS, etc.)
- Be sure to determine the latest pick-up or drop-off time and requirements for your testing days and location. Your shipping carrier must accept Biological Substances Category B.
- FedEx does not ship Saturday afternoon–Sunday end of day, so it’s best to avoid testing during this time if using FedEx.
Shipping with a courier
- The California COVID-19 Courier Network (CCN) is available for sites in the vicinity of these drop-off boxes. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you are not approved to use CCN, you can contact another courier service.
- CCN requires that packaged samples ship in large biohazard bags with the manifests included in the bag and the manifest number(s) written on the outside of the bag, rather than a box.
All samples should be shipped attention to:
Attn: Color Lab
818 Mitten Rd,
Store unused test kits
Please store collected kits in a covered bin in a secure, shaded area without direct exposure to the sun or heat. The ideal storage temperature is room temperature (72-76 degrees Fahrenheit). Packaged kits may be deposited in outdoor drop boxes in cold outdoor temperatures.
Please note: Kits may not be transferred to a different site or used for any purpose other than for sample collection. For safety reasons and to ensure specimen samples are not contaminated or damaged and results are accurate, unused kits may not be returned once they are delivered to a collection site. Unused collection kits must be destroyed when the testing program ends. There are specific expiration dates listed on components of the kits. Please destroy any unused, expired kits by placing them in the regular trash.
Monitoring & Maintaining Your Program
All Color molecular tests are Rx only and therefore are physician ordered.
All tests results are released to the ordering physician as part of the reporting workflow.