Children Health

Maine health officials say school pooled COVID-19 testing effective

Maine health officials said pooled COVID-19 testing remains effective in limiting the spread of the virus in schools and keeping children in classrooms.”I shudder to think what the school year would have looked like if it were not for the early warning system that pooled testing provides,” Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said.However, not all schools participate despite rising cases across the state.The Maine Department of Education said on Monday, 509 new cases were reported involving schools. Some were from the long holiday weekend.Over the past 30 days, there have been more than 5,100 cases in schools, with more than 200 school outbreaks.Maine School Administrative District 72, which serves the Fryeburg area, is among the districts not offering pooled testing.Superintendent Jay Robinson said more than half of parents said they did not want their child to participate, and he said school nurses are already stretched thin.“For us, pooled testing would be a big investment of energy and wouldn’t be a very representative sample of students,” Robinson said.The Brunswick School Department offers pooled testing. School nurse Melinda Nadeau said she uses the phone calls she makes to parents of children who are close contacts to explain the benefits of the program.“I was able to sign up three families yesterday and they were here today because they didn’t need to quarantine because they are starting pooled testing,” Nadeau said.Pooled testing is voluntary. Students involved take a PCR test weekly and are tested again if they come in close contact with someone who tests positive for the virus. If they test negative, they can remain at school.The Gorham School Department does not participate in pooled testing, but Superintendent Heather Perry said the district might consider it as a way to keep unvaccinated students in the classroom.Vaccinated students are not required to quarantine.“COVID is not going to go anywhere. COVID’s going to be with us for a while, and we’re going to have to learn how it is that we continue to deal with it on a day in and day out basis and limit the amount of time students are having to be out of school,” Perry said.

Maine health officials said pooled COVID-19 testing remains effective in limiting the spread of the virus in schools and keeping children in classrooms.

“I shudder to think what the school year would have looked like if it were not for the early warning system that pooled testing provides,” Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said.

However, not all schools participate despite rising cases across the state.

The Maine Department of Education said on Monday, 509 new cases were reported involving schools. Some were from the long holiday weekend.

Over the past 30 days, there have been more than 5,100 cases in schools, with more than 200 school outbreaks.

Maine School Administrative District 72, which serves the Fryeburg area, is among the districts not offering pooled testing.

Superintendent Jay Robinson said more than half of parents said they did not want their child to participate, and he said school nurses are already stretched thin.

“For us, pooled testing would be a big investment of energy and wouldn’t be a very representative sample of students,” Robinson said.

The Brunswick School Department offers pooled testing. School nurse Melinda Nadeau said she uses the phone calls she makes to parents of children who are close contacts to explain the benefits of the program.

“I was able to sign up three families yesterday and they were here today because they didn’t need to quarantine because they are starting pooled testing,” Nadeau said.

Pooled testing is voluntary. Students involved take a PCR test weekly and are tested again if they come in close contact with someone who tests positive for the virus. If they test negative, they can remain at school.

The Gorham School Department does not participate in pooled testing, but Superintendent Heather Perry said the district might consider it as a way to keep unvaccinated students in the classroom.

Vaccinated students are not required to quarantine.

“COVID is not going to go anywhere. COVID’s going to be with us for a while, and we’re going to have to learn how it is that we continue to deal with it on a day in and day out basis and limit the amount of time students are having to be out of school,” Perry said.


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