Pooled Testing for Covid Begins March 15 in All Schools

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At least six weeks of weekly “pooled testing” for the Covid-19 coronavirus begins Monday in all Bedford schools for registered students and staff members.

The process, funded by state agencies for six weeks, accelerates identifying and isolating the presence of the virus.

Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad’s office wrote to parents Wednesday soliciting permission. The communication explained, “Pooled testing involves mixing several individuals’ test samples together into one ‘pool’ and then testing the pooled sample for Covid-19.”

“This approach increases the number of individuals that can be tested at one time and allows us to regularly test our entire school community for Covid-19.” The deadline for giving permission was Friday, March 12. Some teachers are participating in pilot pools this week.

The pooled tests will be performed at least once per week with a shallow nasal swab. Conrad said schools will receive the results within a day or two.

“If the result of the pool is positive, then all individuals in the pool must be retested individually,” Conrad explained to parents. “Because pooled testing does not give individual results, you will only be notified if your child requires follow-up testing. “

Conrad told the School Committee that nursing students from Middlesex Community College will administer the tests to children in kindergarten and first grade. Older participating students will handle the swabs themselves. Other nursing students will supervise the testing in all classrooms he added.

Since state funding expires after six weeks, then a decision will be made as to whether to continue the testing and how to pay for it. Conrad told the School Committee that factors influencing the decision will include participation rate and results.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763

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