Return to Headlines

MRSD Pooled Testing Program

Permission Needed for Pooled Testing Program

Dear parents, caregivers, and guardians,

Thank you for your continued partnership during this unprecedented school year. In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have been working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to implement a free COVID-19 pooled testing program for students and staff at our schools. Studies have shown pooled testing to dramatically decrease COVID rates in communities when all individuals are tested weekly for a month.

The purpose of this letter is to ask your permission to test your child regularly as part of a pooled testing program. Pooled testing involves mixing several individuals’ test samples together into one “pool” and then testing the pooled sample for COVID-19. This approach increases the number of individuals that can be tested at one time and allows us to regularly and efficiently test our school community for COVID-19. To have this initiative be successful we are striving to get as close to 100% participation from our families and staff. Please note: Since its goal is to limit spread in school, this program is for our in-person and hybrid learners; our full-time distance learners do not need to participate.

Schedule: The pooled tests will be performed once per week for five weeks starting February 22 through March 23, while the state is funding pooled testing for schools. Whether our district extends pooled testing beyond March 23 will depend upon the overall success of this initiative at reducing COVID rates in our school community and the availability of sustained funding for pooled testing.

Procedure: Pooled tests involve all participating students and staff members shallowly and softly swab the inside of each nostril four times. The state recommends that all staff and all students in Grade 2 and above swab their own noses – school nurses will facilitate the swabbing of PreK, kindergarten, and Grade 1 students. After swabbing, students deposit their swab in the classroom pooled container and sanitize their hands, and in less than a minute, pooled testing is done and the day’s lesson begins. A video showing how easily students can swab themselves and the impact pooled testing has had on a Salem middle school can be found here.

Results: Schools will receive the pool results within 24-48 hours. If the result of the pool is negative, then all individuals are presumed to not have COVID-19. If the result of the pool is positive, then all individuals in the pool must be retested individually. Because pooled testing does not give individual results, you will only be notified if your child requires follow-up testing. Our schools have been provided Abbott BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Diagnostic Tests to use for this follow-up testing, which allows students and staff in a positive pool to be tested and receive individual results in 15 minutes. These rapid antigen tests should allow school nurses to determine who in any positive pool is actively positive for COVID and who is not.

Protocols: Classroom staff will be trained on the pooled testing protocols, and our nurses are thoroughly trained on how to administer pooled testing swabs and any needed Abbott BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Diagnostic Tests follow-ups. Your child’s school nurse will call you if your child is part of a positive pool and requires follow-up testing and will also notify you of the individual follow-up test results and any next steps.

Reporting: MRSD reports all follow-up test results to DPH, as required in this pooled testing program and will also provide positive follow-up test results (without names or other identifying information) to DESE.

Permission needed: To give permission for your student(s) to participate in Monomoy’s COVID-19 Pooled Testing Program, including consent to transmit pooled results, consent for any necessary follow up tests, and consent to share the test result information with the Department of Public Health, PLEASE FILL OUT THE CONSENT FORM THAT IS ATTACHED TO THIS MESSAGE AND RETURN IT TO YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. If you need a paper copy of the consent form, please contact your child’s school and one will be sent home. Please fill out one consent form for each of your students.

Monomoy is extremely grateful to our committed staff and families that continue to show great flexibility and resilience as we navigate through this school year. It takes all of us working together to contain the spread of this virus. Monomoy is excited to add pooled testing as another mitigation strategy for our school community, as we continue to work together to maintain a safe school environment for in-person learning.

If you have questions regarding the COVID-19 Pooled Testing Program, please contact your school’s nurse by email or phone numbers below.

Thank you,

Dr. Scott Carpenter, Superintendent
Monomoy Regional School District

MRSD School Nurses:
Chatham Elementary School: Jaime Staniels, jstaniels@monomoy.edu, (508) 945-5135
Harwich Elementary School: Holly Tavano, htavano@monomoy.edu, and Christine Mulhall, cmulhall@monomoy.edu, (508) 430-7216
Monomoy Regional Middle School: Carol Fiocco, cfiocco@monomoy.edu, and Amy Sullivan, asullivan@monomoy.edu, (508) 945-5140
Monomoy Regional High School: Cheryl Dufault, cdufault@monomoy.edu, and Sara Sears, ssears@monomoy.edu, (508) 815-5856