IACS students will soon be able to get COVID-19 tested at school through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s COVID-19 Testing Program.
Three different types of testing will be provided: pool testing, symptomatic testing, and the “Test and Stay” program. Pool testing will occur once a week, where shallow nasal swab samples from multiple students are collected at school and put into a single tube for testing. Symptomatic testing will occur when individuals present symptoms at school (DESE notes that individuals should not go to school if experiencing symptoms while at home). The Test and Stay program is for close contact testing, where tests will be administered daily from the first day of exposure for at least five days, allowing close contacts to stay in school if their test results are negative for COVID-19.
IACS is now over one month into the school year, but it is still uncertain when the exact date of the COVID-19 Testing Program will begin. “We’re just waiting for all of our materials and support. We’re gonna have personnel come in and support us in doing that also. We’re waiting on the state right now,” said IACS Director of Health and Wellness, Gayle Nutile-Pimm.
When asked by the Innovator when schools should expect the COVID-19 Testing Program to begin, DESE responded that, “Since every school’s testing program is slightly different, the details you are looking for are likely best provided by the leadership in your specific school or district.” When asked if any schools in Massachusetts have started the testing program yet, DESE provided no further comments.
Once the testing program begins at IACS, the number of positive COVID-19 cases will be made available to the school community once again. “Last year we had a dashboard, and our intention is to get that dashboard up and running again. I would expect that maybe in the next week or so,” IACS Nurse Alison Cambridge said.
The IACS Health Office is actively working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in school. “We’re all wearing masks, we’re strongly, strongly encouraging sanitizing and hand washing,” Cambridge said. Additionally, although IACS is no longer using the “MyMedBot” health screening app, they are asking people to continue to follow the same guidelines. “If you are having symptoms, reach out to us before coming into school and then we will touch base with the parent or the student, and figure out if testing is something they meet the requirements for.”
If there was one word to describe how the IACS Health Office is feeling towards the school community, it would be “grateful”. “We know it’s a challenge to be going on this long, we feel it too, but we’re really grateful that as a community it’s by far the majority of people who are in support of this office and that makes all the difference in the world to us” Pimm said.
Parents/guardians can sign their student(s) up for the COVID-19 Testing Program at IACS using this link: https://www.cic-health.com/consent/ma?district=null. (Note: when signing up, you are consenting to all three types of testing).