Quick Summary of Pooled Testing

The type of testing we are using is called “Pooled Testing.”  Pooled testing makes it easier and faster to find individuals who might have COVID-19.  Here is how it works:

  • Participating students are tested individually once a week with an anterior “short” nasal swab. Students as young as second grade may be able to swab themselves. 
  • Then, five to ten student swabs will be placed in the same tube, creating a group of swabs called a “pool.” The pool is sent to a lab where the whole pool is tested for COVID-19 at one time.
  • If the pool test comes back negative, all students in the pool are COVID-negative. In this case, you will not hear from us. 
  • If the pool test comes back positive, it means that at least one person in the pool is COVID-positive. In this case, all students in that pool will come back for an individual follow-up test.
  • Abbott BinaxNOW antigen tests will be used for Individual follow-up tests. These produce results in 15 mins. If the individual follow-up test comes back negative, the student returns to school as normal. If the individual follow-up test comes back positive, we will contact you directly to discuss care and isolation.  We will also reach out to start the contact tracing process.

Georgetown Pooled Testing FAQs

Why participate in pooled testing?

While the novel coronavirus is still circulating in our communities, we will never get our risk to zero. However, routine screening testing can help us identify potential outbreaks early and give us the confidence we need to safely, and with precautions, remain in school.

A routine screening testing regimen means regular (e.g., weekly) testing of our entire population, or a portion of our population. Routine screening programs help detect positive cases before they become outbreaks and enable schools to stay open with confidence. Routine screening does not replace other mitigation measures, such as social distancing and face masks. Rather, it should be a component of layered mitigation strategies to minimize in-school transmission. 

Vaccines will reduce the danger of COVID-19, but we are still months away from every teacher and student being vaccinated. Consistent, broad-based COVID-19 testing is a solution we can deploy right now, along with standard precautions like masking, distancing, and hand washing, to keep our students and staff safe. 

The goal of regular COVID-19 testing in schools is to quickly identify cases before they become outbreaks. When used alongside other mitigation strategies, like distancing and face masks, testing creates an additional level of reassurance that it is safe to keep schools open with students and teachers in the classroom in person.

Is there a potential for false positives?

False positives are possible but are rare.

How reliable is the test?

Based on efficacy studies conducted to date, pool test protocols detect the existence of the COVID-19 virus as well as it can be detected via an individual COVID-19 test but at a fraction of the cost, thus providing an opportunity to regularly test a larger school population. 

Please remember that any negative test does not always definitively imply that there is no virus in the individual’s system. For example, soon after infection the body is not shedding virus, so it is neither infectious or easily detectable by a test. Other factors can also affect the presence of the virus in the sample. Even with a negative result everyone should abide by the recommended health practices such as mask wearing, physical distancing, and hand washing. 

For individuals positive with COVID-19 virus, with very high viral loads, the test has a very high sensitivity (that is the ability to return a positive result if the patient is actually positive). For individuals positive with COVID-19 virus, with lower viral loads (for instance in the very earliest stages of infection), the exact sensitivity is unknown, but scientific estimates range from 80-95%. 

What this means is that for every 10 individuals that are truly positive, we believe that this inexpensive approach will help us find 8 or 9 of them, without difficulty. It is possible the approach will find all 10, but we cannot be sure. This is why getting tested every single week is so important.

What steps do I follow to participate?

The consent form can be found here:

Please complete and sign, and return it to your child’s school. Consent must be received by Tuesday or Wednesday of the week you would like your child to start being tested.

When is Georgetown starting testing?

We will conduct our first tests on Thursday, February 25 and Friday, February 26, 2021. Students do not need to enroll by the first week to participate in the program.

What day will my child be tested?

Tuesday/Thursday cohorts will be tested on Thursdays and Wednesday/Friday cohorts will be tested on Fridays.

When do the results come back?

Pool results will be available within 24-48 hours following sample submission.

No. Students and staff do NOT need to quarantine while they wait for their pooled testing result. They also do not need to quarantine if they are part of a positive pool awaiting their follow up rapid test. Isolation becomes necessary ONLY if a child’s individual follow up test comes back positive.

How will parents be notified of pooled results?                                                      

You will receive an individual notification, either by phone or email, only if your child is in a positive pool. 

When and how will follow up tests to positive pools be conducted?

Follow up testing will likely be conducted at the Middle High School on Saturdays or Sundays. In order to minimize waiting, we plan on having all follow up testing completed within 24 to 48 hours of notification of a positive pool. 

What happens if all students in the positive pool test negative?

While this is rare, it is possible that all individuals in a positive pool will test negative on the follow up rapid testing. If this occurs, another set of follow up testing will need to occur and will either be by individual PCR or with another rapid BinaxNow antigen testing.

Will I be charged for this test?

Families will not be charged. This program is supported by the Department of Secondary Education and federal CARES Act funds.

Is my child required to participate?

Student and school staff COVID-19 testing is voluntary, but strongly encouraged.  The more students and school staff who are tested, the more likely we are to find any positive cases, even in those students who may be asymptomatic.

Should individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 be included in pools?

Individuals who have previously tested positive in the past 90 days should not test.  After 90 days, you should be included again in the pools.

As individuals are vaccinated, should they be included in pools?

Yes. Vaccinated individuals should still be included in pooled testing.

Can I opt out of pooled testing for my child?

If we are testing the school community, do we still need to wear masks, social distance, etc.?

The implementation of the pool tests is intended to supplement and not supplant the other safety actions in the schools (e.g. mask wearing, frequent hand washing, social distancing). Using pool testing in addition to following safety recommendations (both inside and outside of school) will help students and employees minimize health issues related to COVID-19, and help keep the community safer.

Seniors’ Community Service Hours

Good Morning Seniors,

It has been decided that the 40 hour community service requirement for graduation has been reduced to 20 hours due to current health and safety concerns. 

I will post updated hours on the community service bulletin board (outside of Guidance) for students who have met this requirement and for those who need to meet this requirement after the vacation.
There are still community service opportunities that we are looking for help with! -There are many senior citizens in town looking for help shoveling. -The GYCC is looking for virtual volunteers to help in various ways with the youth center-Mr. Swaim is looking for help supporting a GMHS food pantry

Please see me if you are interested in any of these opportunities!
You have all shown great dedication and commitment to both our school community and Georgetown. Thank you for all that you have done!

Please email me with any questions you may have. 

I hope you have a great vacation!

Thank you,

Mrs. Colten