Enabling K-12 schools to reopen for in-person learning is a priority for many teachers, administrators, parents, communities, and governments. But health and safety–both for students and school employees–is a top concern. Just as with the general population, regular COVID-19 testing can help identify cases early, even among asymptomatic individuals.
President Biden recently launched the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. This program provides funds for COVID-19 testing for teachers, staff, and students in an effort to create a safer return-to-school environment at no cost to parents or the school system. And best practices suggest that pooled testing on a weekly basis can create an easy-to-implement, safe environment that lets teachers and kids put the focus back on education.
So, what is pooled testing and what do school administrators and teachers need to know? Before you dive in, here’s everything you need to know about pooled testing.
What is pooled COVID-19 testing?
Pooled COVID-19 testing combines swabs from consenting individuals in a group and runs them as a single test. In the school environment, classrooms provide a natural method for pooling students (and their teacher) into an easily tracked group, but clubs, sports teams or other groups might also be appropriate. Collection can be self-administered, does not require specialized personal protective equipment, and typically takes less than 10 minutes once per week with results returned within 24 hours. Student privacy is protected in pooled testing as well, since individual identities are not revealed within the pool.