Pool testing for the coronavirus at Hull High School has proven to be a success so far, with more students to be added to the program soon.
Since March 8, the school has been the setting for pool testing, where multiple people’s swabs are combined and tested as on,. HHS nurse Tricia Roach has been overseeing the process.
“We have five full weeks in, and all the pools have been negative, so that’s good,” she reported.
So far, only the ninth-graders and some teachers have been participating in the testing because they are the only ones at the high school four days a week. But, with all students coming back five days a week after April vacation, all students will be eligible.
The process is voluntary, and, to date, 53 percent of freshmen are signed up. The freshmen have more participation than the other grades: 26 percent of 10th-graders; 18 percent, 11th-graders; and 8 percent, 12th-graders.
Roach said that “another email will go out for people to sign up. Obviously, the more people the better.”
The process involved is fairly quick. Roach and a small team visit several classrooms around the school, and students swab their noses. The swabs are combined in test tubes and taken to South Shore Hospital. They are then transported to a lab in Cambridge, and the school receives the results by early the next morning.
One complication is testing the teachers. Roach does not want too many teachers in one pool because if a pool comes back positive, all the people in it have to quarantine until they are tested individually. If too many teachers have to quarantine, it could disrupt learning.
Roach said she tries “to make sure there’s never more than two teachers in a tube.”
The nurse said she thinks pool testing is “giving people more peace of mind.” And, she added, “I haven’t asked the teachers, but I think they’ve found it’s been very minimal with disruption to learning.”
Victoria Dolan is school correspondent for The Hull Times.