MEDWAY — Superintendent Armand Pires is pleased to announce that pooled COVID-19 testing began within the district last week.
The pooled testing initiative began on Tuesday, Feb. 9 and Thursday, Feb. 11 at Medway Middle School and Medway High School. The district plans to expand testing to Burke-Memorial Elementary and McGovern Elementary in March. Only students for which families have consented will be involved in the testing initiative.
The district has opted to join the state’s COVID-19 pooled testing initiative, which funds weekly COVID-19 testing for each participating individual within the district for six weeks. Participating districts are paired with a vendor who assists with testing logistics and provides the district access to materials, technology and lab space. Medway has been matched with Concentric by Ginkgo as its vendor.
The pooled testing strategy involves combining 10-25 test samples together in a “batch” or “pool” and then processing and testing the pooled sample as one with a PCR test. If a pooled test result is negative, then all individual samples within that pool are presumed negative. If a pooled test result is positive, at least one individual in the pool is positive for COVID-19 and each individual in the pool is given an individual rapid test to identify the positive sample(s).
At Medway Middle and High Schools, the pooled testing process involves identified staff members who visit classrooms on the designated testing days each week to gather the participating students. Students then self-administer the nasal swab test under the direction of staff members. Each individual swab is combined into its pool to be sent for lab testing and the district receives pooled test results within 48 hours.
Close to 600 students, which is approximately 50% of the total students at the middle and high schools, were tested through the initiative last week and the district received negative results for all pools following its first week of testing. Participating students will now be tested once per week based on their assigned cohort.
“We are very excited to be starting with this initiative in our middle and high schools,” Superintendent Pires said. “Weekly testing will allow us to better understand the prevalence of the virus in the school community and potentially identify asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases. The information this testing will provide is crucial in helping us to make fact-based decisions as we continue to plan for a fuller return to in-person learning.”
The district also began its own regular testing program for faculty and staff in December 2020 with approximately 90% of staff members participating.