Mass. schools start pooled testing for coronavirus

BOSTON (WHDH) - Dozens of school districts will start pooled COVID-19 testing this week, but officials say many more schools aren’t ready to launch.

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy said batch testing once a week for the coronavirus can determine many people in the same group are low-risk, and if one test in the batch shows symptoms then everyone in that batch gets further testing.

“We know children are asymptomatic at higher rates than adults so when you pool test you’re finding all the asymptomatic cases,” Najimy said. ‘When adults and children are in the school building they are assuming a level of risk, and we have to be careful not to bring that risk home to their families and their communities.

“I do think it’s a pretty good tool to provide people with comfort,” Gov. Charlie Baker said.

While pooled testing has capacity for 300 districts and 120 initially signed up, only 88 are ready to launch Monday, Najimy said. The state pays for the first six weeks of testing and while Najimy said some districts are worried about funding tests after that, she said federal relief should soon kick in.

“I don’t understand where that concern is coming from because there is federal money but again, it’s then the responsibility of the federal government and the state if any one district doesn’t have funds, they’ve got to step up and make this happen,” Najimy said.

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