Why more districts are using “pool testing” to fight COVID-19

Regular COVID-19 testing is one of the best ways to combat viral spread on campuses. But testing every student and faculty member individually can be challenging, expensive, and time consuming. Enter the “pool testing” method being embraced by a growing number of school districts.

“With pool testing, nasal swabs from up to 25 asymptomatic students are submitted together for a single PCR test,” EdSource explains. “If the test is negative, the entire class is assumed to be Covid-free. If the test is positive, students are given individual rapid tests, and those who test positive are sent home to quarantine. Others in the class can continue attending school as long as they test negative twice a week.”

Pool testing is paid for by the state. It saves money because fewer tests need to be conducted and the screening can be self-administered. It saves a lot of time and paperwork for schools.

According to EdSource, more than 700 districts are now testing students and staff this way. These include Anderson Valley Unified in Mendocino and the Mountain View Whisman School District in Santa Clara.

There are disadvantages to this method, especially in areas with high community spread where one person in a group of 25 is likely to test positive.

Read more about the benefits and drawbacks of pool testing here