Voluntary Elementary COVID Testing

Weekly Pooled Student Testing for COVID-19 Available


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Voluntary Elementary student COVID-19 PCR Pooled Testing Begins Tuesday and Wednesday, December 1 and 2

Good evening,

We are pleased to announce that we will be starting voluntary student COVID pooled testing this Tuesday for Cohort B students and this Wednesday for Cohort A students, from 12:45-4:30. The initial round of testing will take place centrally at Watertown Middle School, with subsequent testing taking place once a week in each of the three elementary schools.

As the Watertown Public Schools transitioned students to in-person learning, protocols such as face coverings, hand washing, social distancing, and additional cleaning measures are in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission among students, teachers, and staff in school buildings. Student COVID-19 PCR pooled testing is an additional layer to ensure that our students and staff are safe in our schools as best we possibly can be.

Student testing will maximize the longevity of in-person learning by quickly detecting, tracing, and isolating COVID-19-positive individuals—whether or not they become symptomatic. And, it will provide families and staff with peace of mind. The current safety measures in place combined with testing for staff and students will lower the risk of transmission and allow more consistent access to in-person instruction for our students.

Please use this form to indicate your interest in having your child(ren) tested as part of our COVID-19 surveillance testing program.

What is pooled testing? Pooled testing combines a number of collected test samples into a pool, and analyzes the pool results. Pooled testing is conducted as surveillance testing. A group of no more than 10 samples is gathered together for bulk testing. If anyone is positive in the pool, then students that are in the pool will come back the next morning for individual testing and will learn in a remote setting until the individual results are returned, usually within 24 hours. Students will be pooled by their cluster and cohort. Turn around time for the pooled testing is generally no more than 24 hours, but may be 48 hours, depending on the volume of tests be processed by the lab.

The testing is an anterior-nasal swab test (a short swab no longer than a typical q-tip). One of our school nurses or a voluntary medical professional will collect the sample for our elementary students.

One of the benefits of pooled testing is that at this time, no personal health information is provided to anyone outside of the district. Our school nurses will call any students in a positive pool to explain next steps and discuss retesting options.

We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions that may answer many of the questions you have about the testing. If you have additional questions, please reach out to the following school nurses who are coordinating our program: Bianca Jones at bianca.jones@watertown.k12.ma.us or Michelle Laracy at michelle.laracy@watertown.k12.ma.us.

I highly encourage all families to consent to this testing, as it is one of the best ways to keep our students and our community safe and to keep us in school!

With kind regards,

Dede Galdston, Superintendent of Schools

Link to form for if you are interested in testing: https://forms.gle/T37NKQuVnhR3AqmC8

What is Pooled Testing?

From the Center for Disease Control:

What is pooling?

Pooling—sometimes referred to as pool testing or pooled testing—means combining respiratory samples from several people and conducting one laboratory test on the combined pool of samples to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Why is pooling used?

Pooling allows laboratories to test more samples with fewer testing materials. It could be useful in scenarios like returning groups of workers to a workplace.

What happens if the pooled test result is negative?

If a pooled test result is negative, then all the samples can be presumed negative with the single test. In other words, all of the people who provided samples can be assumed to test negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

What happens if the pooled test result is positive?

If the pooled test result is positive, each of the samples in the pool will need to be tested individually to determine which samples are positive.

When should pooling be used?

Pooling should be used only in areas or situations where the number of positive test results is expected to be low—for example in areas with a low prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Testing Schedule for Tuesday (Cohort B) and Wednesday (Cohort A)

Please accompany your elementary child/ren to the Watertown Middle School front entry (68 Waverly Avenue-you will need to park) at the following times:

12:45-1:15 Last names beginning in A-D

1:15-1:45: Last names beginning in E-H

1:45-2:15: Last names beginning in I-L

2:15-2:45: Last names beginning in M-P

2:45-3:30: Last names beginning in Q-Z

View the CIC Health Consent Form



In proceeding to obtain a COVID-19 test, I certify that this test is for myself, or that I am the guardian of a minor below the age of 18 seeking to take this test and that I am completing this enrollment on behalf of the minor, or I am the court-appointed legal guardian, conservator, or health care proxy for the test participant. If I am accepting these terms on the behalf of the test participant, I certify that I have the legal authority to consent on their behalf.

I accept this waiver and release and any additional waivers included here on my behalf directly, and/or, if applicable, on behalf of the test participant, if I am their legal guardian, conservator, or health care proxy.

POOLED TESTING DISCLOSURE. I understand that I am being tested with a technology called “pooled testing” or “pooling”. Pooled testing combines a number of collected test samples into a pool, and analyzes the pool results. Pooled testing is conducted as surveillance testing as described below, and cannot be used to determine a definitive positive or negative result.

Negative results from pooled testing should not be treated as definitive. Negative results do not preclude SARS-CoV-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for your health management decisions.

If your clinical signs and symptoms are inconsistent with a negative result or results are necessary for your health management, then you should be considered for individual testing. Specimens included in pools where the positive sample cannot be identified must be tested individually prior to reporting a result. Specimens with low viral loads may not be detected in sample pools due to the decreased sensitivity of pooled testing.

Pooled testing may not produce an individual result for me, only an indication if my pool was positive or negative. I recognize that I may not receive an individual result from a pooled test, and I confirm that I am not seeking an individual test for any particular purpose which may require it, such as return-to-work, return-to-school, or travel determination. I further acknowledge that if the pool indicates that I may need an individual test, I will seek one out as soon as possible.

I have read the CDC’s guidance on pooled testing at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/pooling-procedures.html, and understand the material presented there.

I understand these limitations of pooled testing, and wish to proceed with full recognition of these limitations, and I accept these limitations freely.

SURVEILLANCE TESTING. The FDA generally does not regulate surveillance testing. Surveillance testing is primarily used to gain information about infection at a community or population level, rather than an individual level. Surveillance testing can involve testing a certain percentage of a specific population to monitor for increasing or decreasing prevalence or to determine the effect of community interventions such as social distancing. Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 includes ongoing systematic activities, including collection, analysis, and interpretation of health-related data that are essential to planning, implementing, and evaluating public health practice. Surveillance testing is generally used to monitor for a community- or population-level occurrence, such as an infectious disease outbreak, or to characterize the occurrence once detected, such as looking at the incidence and prevalence of the occurrence.

PREP ACT LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. A new public health act, called the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2020. The PREP Act limits the legal rights of persons participating in certain covered countermeasures administered by covered entities. Covered countermeasures include testing to diagnose COVID-19, and covered entities include those administering COVID-19 tests. Therefore, CIC Health and those assisting with supervising or administering this COVID-19 testing are immune from liability for any loss caused, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from administration or use of this COVID-19 test, except for claims involving willful misconduct.

INFORMATION DISCLOSURE. I consent that CIC Health will abide by all data privacy and other laws that apply to it, including HIPAA to the extent that at any point CIC Health becomes or is determined by HHS to be a covered entity under the law. We will use commercially reasonable best efforts to not disclose any individually identifiable health information, except for the following circumstances: in case of emergency; for the purposes of contact tracing; to inform others about their risks and otherwise as permitted or required by law. CIC Health, and affiliated organizations commit to keeping the results as private as reasonably possible. I understand that the current public health crisis limits CIC Health and its partners' ability to do so. I am taking this test myself, or arranging for the minor or participant in my care to take this test, knowing the limitations of both testing technology and privacy as it relates to my result.

USE FOR RESEARCH. By agreeing to be tested, I affirmatively consent that CIC Health and affiliated organizations may use my (or the participant's, if I am consenting on their behalf) de-identified participant data for any appropriate research purpose to enhance human understanding of SARS-CoV2 and/or COVID19, to develop diagnostics, treatments, and promote scientific or engineering advances, without limitation.

WAIVER AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY. I, for myself and on behalf of my heirs, assigns, personal representatives, and next of kin, and any minor or participant for whom I am consenting, hereby forever release, indemnify, and hold harmless CIC Health and the parties involved in providing this testing, which includes but is not limited to CIC Health as facilitator, any individual who extended this testing opportunity to me through their employment or relationship to the testing company, the property owner, landlord, and/or property manager of the site where testing takes place, any third-party clinicians and associated healthcare services firms operating the test collection site, CIC Health’s service providers (including developer of this software, any physician services firm, and any other associated physician or laboratory services partner), as well as the associated parent organizations, affiliates, owners, investors, officers, and directors of the parties listed above, from liability and claims for damages or injury arising out of or in connection with any aspect of this COVID-19 testing. I understand that this waiver means that I give up my right and that of those on whose behalf I consent, to bring any claims, actions, or lawsuits, including for personal injury, death, illness, or property losses, or any other loss, including but not limited to claims of negligence, and give up any claim I may have to seek damages, whether known or unknown, foreseen or unforeseen.

If I am consenting on behalf of the participant, I certify that I, as, the parent, or legal guardian, or conservator, or health care proxy of participant, by signing electronically on the WMS student COVID testing google form, I acknowledge that I have read and fully understand all of the terms of this release and that I am voluntarily giving up substantial legal rights on behalf of the participant in exchange for the participant participating in the testing.