BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts is preparing to launch a pool testing program in schools that aims to help expand monitoring for COVID-19 and encourage schools to remain open with students attending in person.
Pool testing is designed to test larger batches of people at a lower cost.
Under the pool testing program outlined by Gov. Charlie Baker at a news conference Friday, teachers, staffers and students would be tested in batches of 10 using swabs in the front part of the nose.
Ten swabs at a time would be placed in a single tube and shipped off to a lab for testing. If the tube is tested and comes back negative, all 10 individuals are presumed to be negative for COVID-19.
If the test for a tube comes back positive, the 10 who contributed swabs to the tube are tested individually to determine who is positive and who is negative.
A handful of school districts are already using pool testing, including Salem, Watertown and Medford.
The new pool testing program will be available to schools next month.
Baker said the goal is to make sure that students can remain in their classes rather than relying on remote learning.
“This new testing will give school officials more knowledge about what’s happening inside their buildings every day,” Baker said. “There’s no doubt the virus will be with us for awhile, but while there’s a light at the end of the tunnel associated with the rollout of vaccines, we can’t wait for everyone to be vaccinated before our kids get back to school.