CAMPUS: SCHS conducts pooled COVID-19 testing weekly

After a year and half of distance learning, SCHS welcomed students back to in-person learning. The new school year was accompanied by COVID-19 guidelines in order to keep the Bruin community safe, including pooled testing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help with contact tracing.

Shortly after the school year began, the school sent parents a waiver explaining that the school will be conducting optional weekly pooled COVID-19 testing. The testing is mandatory for all teachers and staff and available to students who wish to participate.

Concentric is funded by the state of California to provide testing to students and staff. Pooled COVID-19 testing takes place weekly on Wednesdays during second period. Pooling can test 25 people using one test and takes less than 10 minutes per pool. The participants swab their own noses and place their swabs in a single tube, which are run as a single sample.

Test results are received after 48 hours. If the pooled test returns a positive result, all specimens tested must individually test to determine who in the pool has contracted COVID-19, and the positive individual must quarantine for 10 days. If the pooled test returns a negative result, the class continues as usual until the next Wednesday when they conduct another pooled COVID-19 test.

Many students share mixed feelings about the weekly pooled testing. Some students think the school is benefitting from it while others see it as a waste of time.

Senior Kerrigan Smith thinks that the pooled testing is beneficial for the school because it allows the school to keep close track of contact tracing and the spread of COVID-19. Smith believes that everyone should have to take pooled COVID-19 tests for the sake of the SCHS community’s safety.

“It’s useful to keep for in-person school,” Smith said. “But it should be for everyone so they can all protect themselves.”

Many teachers tend to believe the pooled testing is helping students and staff stay safe while on campus.

Paraeducator Kristina Hoff thinks the testing is of benefit to both herself and SCHS.

“I have a compromised immune system, so I need to be aware and check in weekly on who has COVID, who doesn’t, and if I do or don’t,” Hoff said. “I believe it is beneficial, so we can keep an eye on the process of the spread of COVID through the school district.”

Hoff encourages all members of the Bruin community to get tested due to COVID-19’s rapid spread, the fact that it can appear asymptomatic in some and health risks it poses to all on campus.

“I definitely encourage students to get tested because the one problem with COVID is that you could be carrying it and you could be asymptomatic from it, so a student who is in class right next to you, could have it,” Hoff said. “Doing weekly testing makes me feel more secure.”