The Lowell, Massachusetts School District is welcoming students back to class with the option of free and voluntary weekly coronavirus testing.
The district is among a growing number of schools that are adopting pool testing in an attempt to identify COVID-19 cases. So far, more than 300 schools and districts have expressed interest – but parental permission is required.
Unlike traditional COVID-19 tests, pool testing allows 10 or 20 swabs to be evaluated in a single batch, which cuts down costs. The tests are processed within 24 to 48 hours. If the results come back positive, health officials would follow up with a rapid test to identify who tested positive.
The first six weeks of testing is completely covered by the state through federal stimulus funding, with the option for schools to continue testing using COVID funding that’s been allocated to each district.
Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that the state will make weekly COVID-19 pool testing available to Massachusetts schools within the next month to help bring more students back into the classroom.
The governor and his administration's education officials have regularly been promoting in-person learning, and the governor said Friday that "too many kids remain learning remotely or in complicated hybrid programs."
Baker said pool testing increases the number of people who can be tested using the same amount of lab resources, and will help schools quickly test students and staff, helping to find and isolate any cases of COVID-19.