Pooled Testing

In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to put additional mitigation efforts in place, we are launching a pooled testing program for our district at no cost to families. Families who choose to participate in this weekly program, which uses a non-invasive swab of the lower nostril, will be helping us keep our schools safe, our students and staff healthy, and our doors open for in-person learning.

Pooled Testing Program Details

With support from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the district will begin implementing our testing program when we return from the February break with a testing start date of Tuesday, February 23rd on the Lincoln campus and Wednesday, February 24th on the Hanscom campus.

Once a week in their classroom, participating students and staff will provide a weekly sample via a quick, non-invasive lower nasal swab. This sample will be pooled together with samples from the rest of the participating students in their class. Each pooled sample will be testing with a PCR test. If a pool returns a negative result, no COVID-19 was detected. If a pool returns a positive results, follow-up antigen tests will be used to identify who in the pool was positive. For more details about the testing program, including sample collection, and tips for supporting your children who are participating, please view the LPS Pooled Testing Program Overview presentation.

This is a voluntary program, and in order to participate you must provide consent. Your consent includes agreement to:

  • Allow your child to be tested weekly

  • Allow your child to participate in required follow up testing if the pool returns a positive result

  • Share individual positive test result information with the Department of Public Health and Concentric by Ginkgo, the testing lab.

  • Allow transmittal of student information via the Concentric test processing platform.

Please review the consent form for additional details.

Testing of students will begin on February 23rd and 24th. To give permission for your child to participate in the COVID-19 Pooled Testing Program in their school, please use the electronic LPS Pool Testing Consent Form. It is important that we receive your consent by Friday, February 12, 2021 to ensure your child’s participation on February 23rd or 24th.

The Lincoln Public Schools District is extremely grateful to our committed staff and families that continue to show great flexibility and resilience as we navigate through this school year. It takes all of us working together to contain the spread of this virus. We are excited to add a Pooled Testing Program as another mitigation strategy for our school community, as we continue to work together to keep students and staff safe in our in-person model.

If you have questions regarding the COVID-19 Pooled Testing Program or if you would prefer a paper permission form, please reach out to pooltesting@lincnet.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Does the swab hurt? I’ve heard COVID-19 testing swabs can be painful.

A. Unlike other COVID-19 tests, the sample collection swabbing will just be in the very lower part of the nose, and is not painful.

Q. If my child doesn’t have symptoms, why bother testing them?

A. Individuals can be completely free of COVID-19 symptoms (or asymptomatic), but still capable of transmitting COVID-19 to others. By participating in pool testing you are helping protect others in the school who may be more vulnerable, and you are helping to limit asymptomatic spread and keep our schools open.

Q. Is there a cost to participate?

A. No, there is no cost to individuals to participate.

Q. Will it be disruptive to school?

A.The sample collection will be short and occur only once a week. The time invested in a weekly 10-15 minute sample collection process will help protect against far more disruptive school closures that could result from asymptomatic spread.

Q. Do my child have to participate?

A. No. Participation is a choice, and while we hope everyone in our community chooses to contribute to this effort to keep our schools safe, health, and open, we will respect every family’s decision, and no child will be made to feel stigmatized or singled-out for not participating.

Q. If we do pool testing, do we still have to wear masks and socially distance?

A. Yes. Pool testing is designed as an additional layer of mitigation and is not sufficient alone to protect our students and staff.

Q. Can a pool test satisfy a negative test requirement under a state travel order?

A. No. The pool tests offer group results only, and are not appropriate to satisfy requirements for a negative individual test result.

Q. Can remote students participate?

A. No. The DESE and Shah Foundation funding for the project launch is specifically tied to supporting in-person learning. This is also not logistically possible due to all sample collection occurring within the classroom.

Q. How will I receive notification of pool results?

A. You will receive a direct notification and information about the follow-up testing if your child’s pool tests positive. A general notification will be made each week when all test results have been received and no further results are outstanding.

Q. What will the pool tested result tell us?

A. The test will tell us if COVID-19 was detected in any of the samples provided by the members of the pool. A negative test result means that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was not detected in any of the samples. A positive test result means that SARS-CoV-2 was present in at least one sample in the pool, and individuals will be contacted and schedule to reflex (follow-up) testing using the Abbott BinaxNow test to identify the positive individual(s).

Q. Is there a potential for false positives?

A. Yes, all COVID-19 tests have the potential for a false positive, but in a pilot program false positives were very rare.

Q. How many weeks will the program last?

A. The initial launch phase supported by DESE and the Shah Family Foundation runs through late March. The district anticipates continuing the program through the end of the school year, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Q. How long does the consent last for and can I revoke consent if I do not want to continue?

A. Consent is provided for the duration of this year's program, and families can revoke consent at any time by emailing pooltesting@lincnet.org.