COVID-19 Testing Program FAQs
George School began its pooled saliva testing program on January 19, 2021, with boarding students and dorm faculty. As with any new program, many of our community members will have questions. Here are answers to some that we’ve heard. We’ll try to be responsive as new questions arise in the course of implementing the testing program.
Who will be tested and what is the testing frequency?
All students and employees will be tested on a bi-weekly basis, beginning with testing for boarding students and dorm staff on January 19, 2021. Some groups who are engaged in activities that could expose them to higher risk will be tested more frequently. These may include students who are competing in interscholastic sports or students in performing arts productions.
What is pooled saliva and why use this method rather than individual tests?
Saliva samples from a group of people are combined into a single sample by the testing lab. If the pooled test shows a negative result, then we can safely conclude that everyone whose saliva was included in the sample is negative (COVID free). Pooled samples are a cost-effective way to test a population that helps us to conduct more frequent testing than we would otherwise be able to do.
How many people are in a pool?
There is no fixed pool size. Pools may range from as few as five people to as many as thirty or more. Pools will generally be assembled based on logical groupings, like dorm residence, athletic team, or performing arts group. The determination of specific pool groupings will be influenced by the testing methods performed by the labs as well as by our own experience and by data from local authorities on the frequency of positive test results.
How are the test pools organized?
George School’s plan for testing the boarding population is to create test pools by dormitory. By pooling a group that lives together in a dorm into a single pool, we can reduce the potential for spread and minimize the disruption that might be caused by a positive test result. If a dorm pool tests positive, that entire dorm would remain in quarantine until retesting is complete and individuals are cleared. Residents of other dorms would be able to continue their normal activity.
Day student pools will generally be organized by study room or arrival time.
While dorm staff will be tested and pooled together with the students who reside in their dorm, other employees will be pooled in random groupings to avoid any concentration in a single department that would seriously impact the work of that department in the case of a quarantine resulting from a positive pool test result.
Once a test sample is taken, when can we learn the test results?
We ship the test samples via overnight courier to the labs. They guarantee results the day after they receive the samples. Based on our collection times/process, we expect to have test results in two days. Everyone in a testing pool will be notified of the test results as soon as we receive them. Your activities and interactions will not be restricted while waiting for results, but you will be expected to adhere to all current protocols and safety measures during this time.
What happens if there is a positive test result?
In the case of a positive test result, we would first quarantine everyone who is in that pool until we can retest individuals in order to determine who is infected. We expect retesting to be completed within two to three business days after the initial positive pool result.
If retesting determines that an individual is infected with the COVID-19 virus, whether or not they are sick or show symptoms, they would immediately isolate at home until they are cleared per the department of health standards. If a student lives too far away to go home, they would move to an isolation space on campus. In the case of a dorm parent testing positive, they would remain in isolation in their apartment, staying separate from the activities of the dorm.
What is the process if someone needs to be retested?
Generally, retesting will involve taking a second sample from members of the positive pool and submitting those to the lab to be processed individually. In certain cases, we will be able to re-test the individual samples provided in the initial test. Retesting should take 2-3 business days to complete. Individuals (employees or day students) will be allowed to obtain their own test so that they might clear quarantine sooner.
If I live on campus or in the dorm and my pool tests positive does my whole family need to quarantine?
No. Until a person is confirmed COVID positive the members of the household can continue to go to work and/or school as they normally would. Individuals may choose to exercise extra caution if a family member is part of a positive pool, but they are not required to quarantine.