Massachusetts education officials will partner with a nonprofit to launch a statewide pooled testing program for early educators, children and their families, officials announced Thursday.

Boston-based Neighborhood Villages has been running a pooled testing pilot program since December at early education and after-school programs, and in a new venture with the state Department of Early Education and Care, officials will bring the effort across the state.

Providers who enroll will be able to test all staff, educators and children 2 years old and above once per week at no cost to themselves.

Individual samples will be bundled together and tested as a pool, and if any pool tests positive, everyone in that group will be re-tested individually.

“Pooled testing has proved to be a critical mitigation strategy in detecting positive cases among asymptomatic individuals that might have otherwise been undetected,” Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy said in a statement. “Bringing this testing strategy to child care programs and after school programs will be another important step in our fight against COVID-19, and we are very pleased to partner with Neighborhood Villages to make it possible across the Commonwealth.”

Massachusetts has offered pooled testing to K-12 schools across the state since February, and the new program will make it available for the early education sector.

Officials said testing will begin by mid-June, and early education and care providers can register online at maearlyedtesting.com.

(Copyright (c) 2021 State House News Service.

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