Weston Public Schools Moving to Pooled Testing for Covid-19
On Saturday evening, March 6, a communication was sent to all Weston public school parents and staff about the upcoming changes to the in-school testing program. Starting March 31, 2021, Weston Public Schools are implementing weekly pooled testing for all students and staff, in-school, during the school day. In doing so, Weston will follow the lead of other Massachusetts school systems which have made the change, including both the Lincoln-Sudbury and Wayland school systems (L-S in February and Wayland in January).
Beginning March 15, participating Weston Public School (WPS) students and staff will provide a weekly sample via a quick, noninvasive lower nasal swab. The samples from each group (5-10 students) are tested as a pool using the common PCR test.
According to the extensive document provided by the Schools administration, “a positive pool result triggers an immediate round of tests for that pool of students. A negative second test (15 minute antigen using the Abbot BinaxNow) places the student(s) back in class. A student/staff member with a positive second test will be dismissed home immediately and the positive results of the individual will be provided to local public health for isolation and contact tracing/quarantine of close contacts.”
Testing is mandated for participation in school athletics and in-school music programs at both the Middle and High Schools. In other words, if your MS or HS child participates in in-school band, orchestra or chorus, their testing is mandatory. If your HS student participates in school athletics, their participation in testing is mandatory. There are no Middle School sports this spring.
Whether or not your student participates in school athletics or music, participation is strongly recommended for all students, faculty and staff at all Weston Public Schools.
Weekly asymptomatic testing remains open at the High School and Field School until March 31, following the same procedures of on-line registration through the Project Beacon page. All other risk mitigation measures and COVID-19 safety protocols remain in place including mandatory mask-wearing.
“The reason we strongly encourage everyone in our community to participate in testing for COVID-19 is to allow for early identification of positive cases. On January 12th we began our weekly assurance testing of students and staff. To date we have conducted a total of 4,486 tests and identified 3 positive individuals. Positive individuals were quickly put into isolation and their close contacts were quarantined. We were able to stop the spread of COVID-19 through this process!”, Dr. Connolly, School Superintendent, said in the statement. “Testing combined with our robust contact tracing program in Weston works!”
Parents/staff must register/provide consent for minor student(s)/themselves to participate. The process for registration can be reviewed here. The consent has two purposes; first, it serves as a consent for testing, which gives the school permission to test staff or students. Second, it serves as a consent to report results to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and to the Board of Health in Weston and where staff/the student lives. As COVID-19 is a reportable disease as mandated by the state of Massachusetts, to access testing, staff/parents must agree to the reporting of results.
For more information, or to ask questions, please see the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education page on pooled testing.
Weston public school students, families, staff and other interested parties are encouraged to attend tonight’s School Committee meeting at 7 pm. Agenda is here.