Baker: ‘Pooled’ COVID testing to begin in Mass. schools next month


BOSTON (WPRI) — Schools in Massachusetts will be able to receive weekly “pooled” COVID-19 testing next month, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday.

Pooled testing works by mixing several samples together and then testing them with a PCR test, allowing more individuals to be tested with the same amount of lab resources as a single PCR test.

The test is performed once a week, with results within approximately 24 to 48 hours, according to health officials.

“This tool will help schools quickly test students and staff, helping to find and isolate any cases of COVID,” Baker explained.

If the pool results come back negative, all individuals in the group tested are presumed to be negative, while if it tests positive, everyone in the pool will be given an individual diagnostic test.

Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey Riley said, “pool testing is an important development in our schools.”

The governor said he hopes the program will help schools currently in remote learning bring students back in-person, and for schools in hybrid learning to transition to full in-person learning.

“Too many kids remain learning remotely,” he said.

The Mass. Department of Public Health reported 7,635 confirmed coronavirus cases Friday, and 74 additional deaths after contracting the virus.

The data also shows 2,311 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 440 people in the intensive care unit.

First responders will begin getting vaccinated Monday, Baker said at his Friday briefing.

Residents and staff at assisted living, rest homes and retirement communities are also expected to begin getting vaccinated Monday, according to the governor.

Congregate care settings are scheduled to begin receiving the vaccine Jan. 18, Baker added.

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