Schools Run Pooled Testing Program

Program Aims to Identify Infections Proactively

On February 7, Superintendent Doherty announced that RMHS would be working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Health to implement COVID-19 pooled testing for the staff and students to ensure safety as we return to school and sports activities.

As the school year comes to an end it is a constant fight to get students back into school as much as possible. Although the goal is to get as many students as possible back into the classroom and on the sports field, that comes with great risks due to COVID-19 and the chance of spreading the virus. To make an effort to get students back in school but keep everyone safe at the same time, RMHS has begun participating in pooled testing. The pooled testing currently is aimed at athletes and teachers, but the hope for the testing is to keep numbers down by identifying COVID-positive students and removing them from school activities until they are free from the virus.

Pooled testing involves students and staff members that are put into groups by the sport they play or coach and are given a nasal swab by trained nurses and staff members who strictly regulate the testing. People who are tested can expect results back within a day or two. If there is a positive test in the pool, those who choose to do follow up testing can get their own results back within 15 minutes after taking a second test at school.  Ms. Giuliana, the school nurse at RMHS is satisfied that the tests are reliable and she anticipates that as more and more teachers get vaccinated the pool of teachers who need to be tested will be smaller and smaller.

Testing is taking place at every school within Reading. At RMHS extracurricular participants and athletes are getting tested after school on Monday and Tuesday in the field house while other students who are not in those activities are getting tested outside the cafeteria or the health office on the same days.  In order to keep safe the staff and child getting tested are staying six feet apart while testing.

Senior and football player Dan O’Connor is pleased that RMHS has taken on this initiative. “I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s a smart idea to test a lot of people at a time and keep the school safe.”  

O’Connor also appreciates that testing could play a role in keeping sports and activities up and running.  “There’s less of a risk that the season could be ended from someone who tested positive, since people are being tested frequently.”

Ms. Giuliana shared that the pooled testing program will end at April vacation when state support for the program runs out.