Weekly COVID Testing FAQs

How does Gloucester's Weekly COVID Testing work?
The type of testing we are using is called “Pooled Testing.” Pooled testing makes it easier and faster to find individuals who might have COVID-19. Here is how it works:

What is pool testing?
Pool testing is when a small group of individuals take the same type of test and their test samples are all analyzed together to get one result that includes all people in that group.

In pooled testing, swabs from multiple people are mixed together and tested as a single unit called a pool. Using pools of 10, a lab can test 100 people by only running 10 tests - making pooled testing programs much more efficient and affordable.

This approach will allow the Gloucester Public Schools to test many more students and staff than if we did all individual tests.

Will I be charged for this test?
Pooled testing is free for families and staff. This program is supported by the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, the City of Gloucester, and federal CARES Act funds.

Am I/is my child required to get a test?

Participating in pooled testing is strongly encouraged, but is voluntary. The more students and school staff who are tested, the more likely we are to find any positive cases, even in those students who may be asymptomatic.

What steps do I follow to participate?

To participate every student or staff member just needs to have a completed Consent Form. Students who are 18 and staff can complete their own consent forms. Students who are under 18 must have a parent or guardian complete the Consent Form.

To complete a Consent Form, click on the link below that applies to you or your student. You will go to Project Beacon’s website to create a user account and then be able to sign the consent form. Project Beacon is the organization that Gloucester is partnering with to provide the testing.

How is the test sample collected?

The nasal sample is collected by using a swab in the lower nasal passage. This technique is less invasive and more comfortable procedure than the “deep nasal swab”.

For students in six through 12, this is a self administered test. Each student or staff member swirls the cotton swab three times in the lower part of each nostril, and it’s done.

Should individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 be included in pools?

Individuals who have previously tested positive in the past 90 days should not test. After 90 days, you should be included again in the pools. (Please note that guidance on this point will soon be revised from 90 to 180 days after a positive individual test result).

How will pools be created?

Each school will develop the “pools” or groups usually by dividing up a homeroom. Students and their teacher(s) will be together in the same pool.

What happens if a pooled test is positive?

Most pools will be negative. If a pool is flagged as positive, then we know that there is at least one individual in that group who is positive for COVID-19. Every member of that pool must be re-tested individually on the next school day at the school to determine who is actually positive for COVID. Pool group members that are from a positive pool should isolate until they can be re-tested.

What happens if a pooled test is negative?

Most pools will be negative. A negative test result means that COVID-19 was not detected in your pool, and there is no risk of infection in that pool.

How will parents/guardians be notified of pooled results?

You will receive an individual notification if your child is in a positive pool. At that time, you will get directions on how your child will get follow up testing to determine if they are actually positive for COVID-19.

How long will it take to receive pooled test results?

Pool results will be available within 24-48 hours following the test. As a reminder, students and staff do not need to quarantine while awaiting pooled test results and should be in school unless they become symptomatic.

If an individual’s follow-up test comes back as positive, what is the school's approach?

If an individual’s follow-up test comes back positive, then that person has a confirmed positive case and must stay out of school and follow the same Department of Health’s quarantine directions that we have been using all school year.

Who conducts contact tracing?

The Department of Health and school nurses will conduct contact tracing like we have for all positive cases throughout the school year.

What steps do I follow to participate?

Please see our resource titled “Getting Started” on covidedtesting.com for more information on how to start up a pooled testing program of your own.

Where will the test be analyzed?

GPS is partnering with the Beacon Project and the tests will be processed at the Broad Institute at MIT.

As individuals are vaccinated, should they be included in pools?

Yes. Vaccinated individuals should still be included in pooled testing.

Is there a potential for false positives?

False positives are possible but very rare.

If we are testing the school community, do we still need to wear masks, social distance, etc.?

Yes, the entire school community must continue to follow all of our safety protocols including wearing masks, frequent hand washing, and social distancing. Using pool testing in addition to our safety protocols will help students and staff minimize health issues related to COVID-19, and help keep our community safer.