Nixon Elementary School

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Find More Information on Pooled Testing Below - Please Consider the Consent Form!

School-Based Pooled Testing FAQ

What is pool testing?

Rather than test each individual student and employee separately, samples will be combined—or pooled—to cut down on the number of tests. We will be using nasal swabs. If one person within a pool of 10 samples tests positive, the entire pool is flagged and subsequent testing is enacted to discern which individual(s) within the pool was the positive case.

How is the test sample collected?

The nasal swab is collected by a sampling technique known as an “anterior nares specimen” which is the lower nasal passage. is swabbed. This is a less invasive and more comfortable procedure for the patient than the “deep nasal swab”. It’s sort of like a rapid strep test, but the sample is collected from the nose.

Students in Grade Two and above, can swab their own noses under the supervision of a trained individual. Using the cotton swab, they rotate the swab three times around each nostril. Swabbing of Grade One and below will be conducted by a school nurse or a trained professional.

How will pools be created?

Staff will identify Individuals who have given consent for testing and create pools based on classrooms/homerooms with a maximum of 10 swabs per pool.

How does the testing process work?

For the best chance at early detection, highly sensitive molecular tests are used. Pooled testing offers a way to do this at scale affordably. 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 regular testing programs efficient and affordable.

If the pool is negative, then all individuals in that pool are ‘clear’ and may continue to attend classes or their work at the school. If the pool is flagged as positive, then we know that there is at least one individual in that group who is positive for COVID-19. Now, we must individually retest this pool of 10 individuals to determine who is 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 sample submission. As a reminder, students do not need to quarantine while awaiting pooled test results and should be in school unless he or she becomes symptomatic.

What will this pooled test tell me?

This test will confirm whether or not someone in a pool group is currently infected with COVID-19.

→ Positive - If a pool result is positive, it is important that all pool group members are individually retested as soon as possible. Pool group members should isolate until they can be individually tested.

→ Negative - A negative test result means that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was not detected in the sample. Though rare, it is possible for an individual that has COVID-19 to register “negative” as the viral load increases within their system. This is why we will continue to adhere to all CDC recommended safety protocols, which have been proven to significantly decrease the chance of spreading the virus. Over time, statistically, we will be able to become more confident in the actual absence of the virus in our schools.

Is there a potential for false positives?

False positives are possible but very rare.

Who conducts contact tracing?

Sudbury Public Schools works in partnership with the state Department of Health and the local Board of Health to conduct all contact tracing initiatives.

How reliable is the test?

Based on efficacy studies conducted to date, pool test protocols detect the existence of the COVID-19 virus as well as it can be detected via an individual COVID-19 test but at a fraction of the cost, thus providing an opportunity to regularly test a larger school population.

Please remember that any negative test, and especially a pooled 10 sample test, does not definitively always imply that there is no virus in the individual’s system. For example, soon after infection the body is not shedding virus, so it is neither infectious or easily detectable by a test. Other factors can also affect the presence of the virus in the sample. Even with a negative result everyone should abide by the recommended health practices such as mask wearing, physical distancing, and hand washing.

For individuals positive with COVID-19 virus, with very high viral loads, the test has a very high sensitivity (that is the ability to return a positive result if the patient is actually positive). For individuals positive with COVID-19 virus, with lower viral loads (for instance in the very earliest stages of infection), the exact sensitivity is unknown, but scientific estimates range from 80-95%.

What this means is that for every 10 individuals that are truly positive, we believe that this inexpensive approach will help us find 8 or 9 of them, without difficulty. It is possible the approach will find all 10, but we cannot be sure. This is why getting tested every single week is so important.

Will I be charged for this test?

Families will not be charged. This program is supported by the Department of Secondary Education and federal CARES Act funds.

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

Student and school staff COVID-19 testing is voluntary, but strongly encouraged. The more students and school staff who are tested, the more likely we are to find any positive cases, even in those who may be asymptomatic.

Where will the test be analyzed?

The Broad Institute at MIT, a research facility that converted part of its CLIA-certified lab into a high-throughput COVID-19 testing facility. Their testing facility processes samples from nasal swabs using an RT-PCR assay. The average turnaround time is less than 24 hours.

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).

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

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

How will parents be notified of pooled results?

You will receive an individual notification if your child is in a positive pool to arrange an individual test. The entire school will be notified when all positives have been identified and contract tracing has been performed.

Why use pool testing?

Pool testing can identify and isolate asymptomatic carriers of the COVID-19 virus, thus enhancing the health and safety of those in the buildings. This protocol will allow us to minimize the presence of the COVID-19 virus on our campuses and maximize our ability to remain open for on-site learning and engagement throughout the 2020-21 academic year. We will continue to monitor and maintain all CDC health and safety recommended protocols throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, as well.

How is user privacy ensured?

The barcode corresponding to the sample will be connected with a building based code. Individual names are not transferred to the Vendor. Therefore, the data portal that will be used meets and exceeds all HIPAA privacy protections afforded every individual since no Protected Health Information (PHI) will be shared. Saliva samples will be used for COVID-19 testing only, and for the vendor to make improvements to their diagnostic products. Individuals can only access their own results. Only approved school administrators will be able to view all pool results.

The Vendor will never know the identity of those being tested, as they only receive bar coded vials.

If a definitive diagnostic test is required (for individuals in pools that contain a positive), a distinct HIPAA compliant system will be utilized that will also protect PHI.

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

The implementation of the pool tests is intended to supplement and not supplant the other safety actions on campus (e.g. mask wearing, frequent hand washing, social distancing). Using pool testing in addition to following safety recommendations (both inside and outside of school) will help students and employees minimize health issues related to COVID-19, and help keep the community safer.

If I am found to be positive through an individual diagnostic test, how long do I wait until participating in pool testing once again?

If an individual is found to be positive for COVID-19 via a diagnostic PCR test, the individual should not participate in pool testing for 90 days. This is because viral DNA could linger in the patient for some period of time, even when there is no active virus. So, we might accidentally conclude that a positive DNA test means such a person is once again infectious, when they in fact are not.

Why are we testing students for COVID?

As Schools transition students to in-person learning, protocols such as face coverings, hand washing, social distancing and additional cleaning measures are in place to minimize risk of COVID-19 transmission among students, teachers and staff in school buildings. While these measures are essential to providing a safe return to school, providing voluntary staff testing provides greater assurance for a safety.

To create a more comprehensive system of safety, and to understand more about the COVID-19 transmission risk among all individuals attending school in-person, schools seek to implement student COVID-19 testing. 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.

What is a PCR COVID anterior nasal swab test?

The test most commonly used to diagnose COVID-19 is a molecular test, or PCR test. It works by detecting genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. When a person is infected, they have this genetic material in their nose and upper throat. The test uses a sample that is collected with a swab from an area of the nasal passage where viral particles are likely to be present. Anterior nasal swabs are shorter swabs, with the collection being taken from the lower part of the nose.

Will the test hurt?

The test will not hurt. As the sample is being collected, there will be some pressure felt in the nose during swabbing. For information about how the sample is collected, please visit our website for an instructional video.

What do I need to do if I want my student tested?

You will need to fill out a consent form indicating you want your child tested.

Revised February 10, 2021


Governor Baker Announces COVID Pool Testing Initiative:

“Let’s Crack the COVID Case!” COVID Pool Testing Preview Video for Students:

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COVID-19 Travel Advisory

Please carefully consider your travel plans over the holiday season as it could potentially impact our school community and our ability to have students remain with in-person learning. Please be aware that the CDC has urged all Americans not to travel and to keep celebrations within single households.

Massachusetts residents are urged against traveling Out-Of-State

All visitors entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, who do not meet an exemption, are required to:

If your COVID-19 test result has not been received prior to arrival, visitors, and residents must quarantine until they receive a negative PCR COVID-19 test result. Documentation of results must be submitted to your school nurse before your child can return to school.

If you travel to a higher-risk state, a molecular diagnostic COVID-19 PCR test result is required. A rapid test or a serology test will not be accepted.

The MA Travel Order is for anyone entering Massachusetts from out-of-State and includes Massachusetts residents returning from second homes or weekend trips to any state not considered to be lower-risk.

Scenario Per MA Travel Order: I am a MA resident returning home after traveling to a state that is not considered lower risk. I have proof of a negative test result on a sample taken before my out-of-state travel, and because I was out of state only for 48 hours, I am returning within 72 hours of the time the sample was taken. Can I use my negative test results taken before I left to satisfy the 72-hour testing rule and avoid quarantine? Answer: No, you must quarantine or obtain a new test upon return, unless you meet another exemption.

Important Dates


2/15-2/19/21 No School - February Break

2/24/21 Food Pantry Collection

11:45 Early Release Day

School Meeting Video Release - Friendship Theme

3:00-5:00 Remote Student Materials Pick Up

2/25/21 Food Pantry Collection

2/26/21 Food Pantry Collection


3/2/21 11:00-12:00 Cohort B Coffee Talk

2:35-3:35 School Advisory Council (SAC) Meeting

3/3/21 11:45 Early Release Day

3:00-5:00 Remote Student Materials Pick Up

3/4/21 Nixon Spirit Day - Dream Job Dress-up Day - Cohort A

3/5/21 Nixon Spirit Day - Dream Job Dress-up Day - Cohort B

3/10/21 11:45 Early Release Day

3:00-5:00 Remote Student Materials Pick Up

3/11/21 PTO Staff Appreciation - Coffee & Donuts

9:00-10:00 Cohort A Coffee Talk

3/12/21 Professional Day - No School

3/16/21 11:00-12:00 Cohort B Coffee Talk

3/17/21 11:45 Early Release Day

3:00-5:00 Remote Student Materials Pick Up

3/22/21 Nixon Spirit Day - Effort - Cohort A

3/23/21 Nixon Spirit Day - Effort - Cohort B

3/24/21 Food Pantry Collection

11:45 Early Release Day

School Meeting Video Release - Resiliency Theme

3:00-5:00 Remote Student Materials Pick Up

3/25/21 Food Pantry Collection

9:00-10:00 Cohort A Coffee Talk

3/26/21 Food Pantry Collection

3/30/21 11:00-12:00 Cohort B Coffee Talk

3/31/21 11:45 Early Release Day

3:00-5:00 Remote Student Materials Pick Up

A Note About Nixon Coffee Talks

We will pause our coffee talks until March as participation has been low over the past weeks. Please reach out to if you need to connect:

Assistant Principal Murray -

Principal Woods -

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