Dear SPS Families,
We are starting a free voluntary weekly testing program to help keep our staff, students and community safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Regular testing of students and staff will help us lower the risk of the disease throughout our district by finding and isolating individuals who have COVID-19 quickly, even before or if they never show symptoms. We have confidence in our safety protocols including masking, distancing, and sanitization. The weekly pooled testing program is just another way we are striving to keep our school environment safe for everyone. This program is completely voluntary, and will begin the week after February vacation.
Pooled testing involves mixing several individuals’ test samples together into one “pool” and then testing the pooled sample for COVID-19. This approach increases the number of individuals who can be tested at one time and allows us to regularly test our school community.
The pooled tests will be performed once per week in each of our buildings using a shallow nasal swab for participating students and staff members. Schools will receive the pool results within 24-48 hours. If the result of the pool is negative, then all individuals are presumed to not have COVID-19. If the result of the pool is positive, then all individuals in the pool will be retested individually using Abbott BinaxNOW Rapid tests with results in only 15 minutes. Our staff has been thoroughly trained on how to administer pooled testing, as well as the Abbott BinaxNOW Tests.
Additional information and consent forms for staff and student participants will follow this introductory letter, including detailed logistics of the testing program prior to the planned start on February 24th. This FAQ provides another good overview of the program.
The district is extremely grateful to our committed families, students and staff who continue to show great flexibility and resilience as we navigate through this school year. We are excited to add pooled testing as another mitigation strategy for our school community, as we continue to work together toward the safe return of all students and staff to in-person learning. While there is more information to come, if you have initial questions regarding the COVID-19 Pooled Testing Program please reach out to your school nurse.
Dr. Marcus, Superintendent