School Community exhorted to participate in asymptomatic testing
At last night’s School Committee meeting, parents and students were strongly encouraged by Weston resident, public school parent, and epidemiologist Dr. Kathleen Mortimer to participate in the weekly asymptomatic testing offered free of charge by Weston schools.
As a member of the Weston Public School’s Medical Advisory Committee that was in place from September-December of 2020, Kathleen and clinical members participated in the Safer Teachers/Safe Students collaborative with local schools, scientists, and Covid testing vendors. That working group strongly encouraged frequent testing of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic staff and students (with a focus on Middle School/High School) as an effective tool to keep schools open and increase in-person time.
While I cannot share the links to how and where the Weston testing is taking place due to the public nature of this page, all Weston public school parents should have received emails from the district with instructions (Search ” Student and Family Covid Testing Notice.” )
If your child cannot get to the testing sites between 1:00-5:00, Tuesdays (Field) or Thursdays (High School), please contact your school’s nurse and arrangements will be made.
Last night, Dr. Midge Connolly, the Weston Schools Superintendent, confirmed that Weston has purchased enough tests to complete up to 1500 tests per week for several months. During the first couple of weeks of the testing program in January, fewer than 400 staff and students participated. Most weeks the numbers tested have increased, but there are almost 2,000 staff and students in the system. Increasing the size and the representativeness of the sample greatly improves the value of the data. Weekly, pre-scheduled asymptomatic PCR testing for students and staff (students and staff who have no known symptoms of COVID-19) is an important metric to reduce the chance of in-school transmission. It is important to build evidence that is safe to expand in-person learning.
The school system has partnered with the state and the Broad Institute through Project Beacon to offer these additional safety measures to all students and staff who are interested. You must register/provide consent for yourself/minor student(s) to participate. The entire registration and consent process takes 2-3 minutes, is available to anyone 18 years of age or older without a designated parent or guardian, and once registered, the user/parent/guardian is able to use this platform for testing at school and at any of the Project Beacon testing sites (Stop-the-Spread) throughout the state.
Once the students are registered, an appointment can be scheduled using the Project Beacon scheduling platform (within the Weston program or at other Project Beacon sites). MS and HS students can go for testing without a parent/guardian present.
The testing process is simple. Testing consists of placing a small Q-tip like swab into the lower (anterior) portion of your nose and swabbing for 3 seconds on each side. Individuals who are 12 years of age and older are able to self-swab while being monitored by a nurse. Individuals who are younger than 12 years of age, or who do not wish to self-swab, will be sampled by a nurse. Results are generally available in 24-48 hours.
It’s important, Weston. Please participate. For more information, please contact the school nurse of your student’s school.
Update 2/10/2021: Link to entire School Committee meeting video here: https://weston.vod.castus.tv/vod/?video=97912b26-dd2d-4aed-af85-297fad083912.