Officials: Mass. schools officials use rapid response testing to remain open

BOSTON (WHDH) - Medical experts say rapid testing for COVID-19 will be crucial for tracking the virus in schools and keeping them open in the fall.

State officials said they plan to use rapid testing in certain conditions, including if two or more people in a classroom test positive for the virus; if 3 percent of a grade or school tests positive; if three or more teachers or staff test positive; and if two or more students on a bus test positive.

There would have to be evidence of transmission at the school and the infections would have to take place within a 14-day period to prompt the rapid testing. Dr. Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center said it was important to test so officials could determine if it was safe to keep students in school.”

“It’s not just about detecting outbreaks and knowing where they exist, it’s about knowing where they don’t exist, being able to feel safe keeping schools or parts of schools open,” Doron said.

“[It’s] the ability to deploy a team that would do testing for an entire cohort of potentially exposed people and keep them in school rather than sending large groups home again and again or having school closures again and again,” Doron said. “It really ensures the safety and sustainability of an in-school model.”

So far, 30 percent of schools across the state say they will start the year with remote-only learning.

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