SEBRSD offering classroom pooling program for onsite COVID-19 testing

SPENCER/EAST BROOKFIELD — Beginning the week of April 26, the Spencer-East Brookfield Regional School District will implement the Concentric Classroom Pooling Program for onsite COVID testing at each of our four schools. Our schools will be testing several classrooms at each school weekly, on Tuesdays. The goal of pooled testing is to find infected individuals (especially those who may be asymptomatic), and isolate them before the spread worsens. To put it simply, the process of pooled testing combines multiple samples together in one collection jar to test a “pool” of individuals, which can have as few as 5 and as many as 25 samples.

Pooled testing is a key tool for schools, organizations or workplaces that want to stay open safely, by monitoring staff and students periodically. This testing is being offered free of charge to us through a DESE grant until the end of the current school year.

Here is some more detailed information on pooled testing and your child’s role in the process:

  • Parents/Guardians must provide consent for students to participate in pooled testing. Participation is highly recommended as it is safe and harmless and helps prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Your child will NOT be tested every week. Testing will be performed on a rotation schedule due to the large student population and to prevent as much interruption as possible to instructional learning time.
  • Testing an entire class usually takes 10-15 minutes, so students and teachers can get back to learning as quickly as possible.
  • Testing is performed on asymptomatic students. Students that report for school with symptoms of illness will be sent home in accordance with standard protocol and will not be included in the pooled testing.
  • All students in a class, pod, or cohort swab their own noses and place their samples in a single collection tube (that’s the “pooling” step). The samples in that tube are then run as a single sample, using one test.
  • Our pooled test uses short nasal swabs that go just a half inch into the nostril (think: cotton swabs). We do not use the long “brain tickler” swabs.
  • If students have trouble performing the swabbing, schools can provide a nurse or other trained staff member to help.
  • Samples are shipped overnight and processed within 48 hours of receipt.
  • School nurses will have access to pooled testing results. If the results are positive, it means that one or more individuals in the pool may have COVID.
  • In the event of a positive result, the school nurse would then provide the option of an individual diagnostic COVID test to all students in the pool to isolate the infected individual(s). The nurse will also perform contact tracing protocols and affected students will be required to quarantine for 14 days or until proof of a negative test result is provided.
  • It is important to note that the pooled testing itself DOES NOT identify if an individual has COVID. Since pooled tests do not provide results for individuals, the results are not reported to public health authorities.

Consent forms will be sent home for all students. Parents/Guardians can also complete the consent electronically using the link below.

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