School officials are encouraging Hopkinton students to register for pool testing in an effort to quickly identify potential cases of COVID-19, according to information sent to the school community this week.
Pooled testing processes specimens from multiple people in a single batch, which saves time and resources, according to information provided by JCM, the pool testing company with whom the Hopkinton schools have contracted.
“Student and staff testing maximizes the longevity of in-person learning by quickly detecting, tracing, and isolating COVID-19-positive individuals,’’ according to information provided by JCM.
Tuesday will be the test collection date.
High school and middle school students will drop their samples to the collectors on their way into the buildings. They will need the QR code either printed out or on their phone in order to turn in their sample. Collection times at both middle and high school will be between 7 and 7:30 a.m.
Elementary school students will have samples collected in the classroom. Their QR codes will be stored at school. Collection time for Hopkins is between 8 and 8:50 a.m., while Elmwood and Marathon will be between 9 and 10 a.m.
Recent research shows that more than half of COVID-19 cases are spread by infected individuals without symptoms, the company information said. “Testing is the only way to identify and isolate individuals who do not realize they are sick before they spread the virus to others,’’ the company stated.
If the sample is collected the evening before, it must be refrigerated overnight.
Students will be given a new pool test kit when they turn in theirs each Tuesday morning.
If a pooled test result is negative, then all specimens can be presumed negative with the single test, according to JCM.
If the pooled test result is positive, the laboratory switches to an individual, diagnostic testing approach. This diagnostic testing usually can be completed within a few hours of finding a positive pool.
If a student does not have the virus and their results are pooled with a student who tests positive, that student does not have to be quarantined because testing is immediately done to determine which student is positive. No follow-up testing is required.
Students will not miss learning time because children swab at home, either the night before or the morning when they turn in the swabs for testing. Elementary school students have new kits delivered to their classrooms. Secondary students pick up new kits when they drop off their used swabs for testing.
Anyone who forgets a swab can return to the testing cycle the next week.
In-person students can register for pool testing at any time. The program is not available for remote students.
“When everyone participates, the risk is mitigated for all,’’ superintendent Carol Cavanaugh wrote in an email to the school community. “Pooled testing is a good way to identify asymptomatic carriers and reduce risk in the community. There is really no downside.’’
“It’s important that we work together to keep our schools safe,’’ she said.
Families can register a student by accessing the online consent form through their PowerSchool Parent Portal.