Get Pool Tested.


Phoebe Clark (II) participates in pool testing. (Source: Abraham Lester-Barrali (II))

Pool testing is a crucial aspect of keeping schools running as the pandemic endures. Even with masks and vaccinations, pool testing is an essential precautionary measure to keep the community safe. The Boston Public Schools website provides information on testing in schools, stating, “We strongly encourage all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, to participate in the pool testing program. The more people who test regularly, the better data we have.”

Participation in pool testing allows students to remain in the school building and continue to learn in a safe, uninterrupted environment until the pandemic ends. The more students who participate, the more data the school administration has to isolate positive cases and keep a watchful eye over the health of the school. This will allow the year to progress and the number of COVID-19 cases to decrease, which will, over time, to be able to pave the path to loosen restrictions.

Vaccinated students or those who have been tested outside of school may believe they are exempt from participating in pool testing. Pool testing, however, allows for the detection of asymptomatic positive cases and limits the chances of a school-wide outbreak.

Olurimi Alofe (VI) describes her motivations for participating in pool testing, saying, “It doesn’t do me any harm, and it does benefit the school and health of the people attending, so I don’t see a problem with it.”

Another common misconception among students is that the deadline for sign-ups for pool testing has closed. This, however, is not the case. BLS Director of Operations Ms. Jesse Kwan says the number of consents to participate in pool testing since the beginning of the year has “definitely increased […] I don’t remember the exact numbers [from the start of the year], but we have over 1,600 consents at BLS.”

Over 1,600 out of 2,400 BLS students have consented to participate in pool testing, but only 500 to 800 are tested weekly. Finding time can be difficult. The current rotating six-day schedule and a limited number of study periods add to the strenuous search for time.

Pool testing takes only three minutes and can be done during studies, student leadership, lunch, after school and on some occasions before school. While the line may seem long and inconvenient, it moves extremely quickly.

The testing process itself is simple. Students blow their noses, sanitize their hands, input their student ID number, grab a swab and move it around their noses five times before dropping it in the tube and returning to their previous activities. The process is a minor disruption to a student’s daily routine.

There are many moving pieces that contribute to a year of in-person learning. COVID-19 continues to be a prominent factor in everyday life. Each student must do their part to ensure that we are allowed to remain in the building safely, and participating in pool testing is a core responsibility to this goal.