Pentucket Regional School District Begins Offering Rapid COVID-19 Tests for Ill Students, Staff

Sweetsir Elementary School nurse Ann Brady-Lozier holds one of the rapid COVID-19 tests Pentucket has received in order to conduct rapid on-site testing for students and staff who fall ill during the school day during in-person learning. (Photograph courtesy of Pentucket Regional School District.)

Pentucket Regional School District is offering rapid COVID-19 tests to students or staff who may fall ill during the school day.

Superintendent Justin Bartholomew said the program is available only to students and staff in the hybrid learning model should they begin to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 after arriving in-person at school. The program is not open to the public, students and staff taking part in fully remote learning, or hybrid students and staff who fall ill on weekends, holidays or during remote learning days.

“This is a great step forward in expediting the contact tracing process in our schools and will make a big difference in stopping the spread sooner,” Bartholomew said.

Pentucket Regional School District was one of 134 districts chosen by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the U.S. Department of Defense to receive BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 tests to help identify cases of coronavirus in the district. The district has approximately 400 tests on standby at this time.

The school says a school nurse determines whether an individual qualifies for a test. Those who test positive for COVID-19 are sent home and given instructions regarding the next steps to take, including self-isolation protocols and additional testing requirements.

Even if a person tests negative, they will still be sent home and required to isolate for 10 days as a result of their symptoms.

Nurses at each district school have been trained to administer the nasal swab tests, which take approximately 15 minutes to yield a result. The district also has created isolation areas at each school for those who are showing symptoms.

The instant results will also allow for the district to start conducting contract tracing immediately after a positive result is received, helping to mitigate further spread of the virus in the school community.

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