September 24, 2021
Dear Students, Families, and Staff,
The reopening of our schools over the past few weeks has proven to be a significant challenge. We have seen more cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in our schools in the past few weeks than at any point since the pandemic began. The number of positive cases required us to quarantine large numbers of unvaccinated students who have missed class time due to being considered close contacts. I am writing today to make you aware of an additional mitigation strategy called pooled testing that aims to identify the virus early in students and staff who are asymptomatic and to reduce the need for unvaccinated students and staff to quarantine if they are considered a close contact.
Pooled testing is a voluntary program that requires parental permission for students to participate. It involves collecting several individuals’ test swabs together into one “pool” and then testing the pooled sample for COVID-19. This approach increases the number of individuals who can be tested at one time and allows us to regularly test our school community for COVID-19. Pooled testing is performed once per week using a shallow nasal self-swab for testing participants. We receive the pool test results in 24-48 hours. If the result of the pool is negative, then all individuals are presumed to not have COVID-19. If the pool returns a positive result, all individuals in the pool will be retested using the Abbott BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Diagnostic Test. You would be notified if your child requires follow-up testing. Individuals with no symptoms and a negative rapid test will no longer be required to quarantine.
Simply put, participation in pooled testing allows for close contacts of a positive COVID-19 individual to remain in school and avoid quarantine. Close contact students of a COVID-19 positive case who are not fully vaccinated and who choose not to participate in pooled testing will be required to quarantine for 10 days.
We hope to begin pooled testing as early as the first week of October. To register your child for pooled testing at his/her school please visit our website at https://sad1.org/covid-dashboard/. On our website you can also find additional information pertaining to pooled testing as well as answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). If you have questions or would like a paper copy of the registration form, please contact MSAD #1 Health Service Director, Lisa Mckenna at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 764-8105.