Pooled testing a fantastic tool

|Sarah Guskey Kemer|

Hello, New Gloucester (and Gray!) Public School Parents,

Today, the Superintendent sent out a letter that, at the bottom, had information about pooled testing. Pooled testing is a fantastic tool at our disposal that, when layered with other mitigation measures (such as increased ventilation, mask wearing, etc.), keeps our children’s health safe. They need 30% of the school to participate in order to keep certain measures in place. I am the daughter of a microbiologist and thus very strongly believe in the science that has lead to both these tests and vaccinations. I’m writing to encourage all families in the public school system to participate in the pooled testing.

There are some understandable hesitations. It’s kind of bizarre to have your child be tested for something medical regularly during school. I recognize that. I also know that pooled testing works. It keeps everyone safe, as cases are identified before they become outbreaks, and often before the individual knows they’re sick. (This also allows families of the child who tested positive to be aware of the illness earlier, which can be beneficial to those families with members in higher-risk categories). It is cost-effective, as resources are devoted to testing larger groups of people as one, instead of individually (unless the group tests positive).

If you’re still hesitant, I urge you to look at pooled testing research and materials on the Maine DOE site (the same materials the administration and teachers see), on scholar.google.com, or on any verified public health site (Maine CDC, US CDC, etc.). These are all trusted resources that can offer in-depth information and answer most questions. If you have specific questions about your child and testing, speak to your pediatrician. I also know, as I have asked many, many questions this last year, that the Superintendent, school Principals, and School Board members are happy to discuss in detail the thought process behind their decision, the logistics behind how it will work in your child’s specific classroom, etc.

In one school board meeting, School Board President Sam Pfeifle compared pooled testing to the big war-time effort we can all undertake, akin to collecting tin cans that families did in WWII. These covid mitigation measures—mask wearing, vaccinations if eligible, and pooled testing—all combined are our small sacrifices that add up cumulatively in our community and over time to keep the kids, particularly those who cannot yet be vaccinated, safe. 

We want to keep schools open. We want to keep kids safe and healthy. To do both, we need this layered approach. We need as many families as possible to opt in to this pooled testing. We particularly need YOU to opt in.

Thank you for reading,
Sarah Gusky Kemer

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