Testing swab in test tube

Yarmouth families are encouraged to enroll their students in the COVID-19 Pooled Testing program that will be implemented in our schools this fall. This letter provides more information on the program and how to participate, with a link to the consent form provided near the bottom of the letter.

What is pooled testing?

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Department of Education (DOE) have implemented a pooled COVID-19 PCR testing program, which is available to any K-12 school district.

  • The pooled test is a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, which is considered the “gold standard” of COVID-19 testing. It can detect the virus at incredibly low levels, catching COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals before they become symptomatic or infectious.
  • Pooled PCR testing is a more efficient way to test large groups of students and staff in schools on a weekly basis.
  • Pooled testing involves collecting swabs from small groups of students, usually students in a class cohort or homeroom, placing the swabs in a common test tube, mixing several test samples together in a "pool" and then testing the pooled sample with a PCR test for detection of SARS-CoV-2.
    • If a pool’s results are positive, the individuals in that pool will need to be tested using a rapid COVID-19 antigen test called BinaxNOW.
    • The positive individual(s) would then be sent home to begin their isolation period.

Why is it important to participate?

This will be an important step in reducing transmission of the disease and eliminating the need for quarantining and isolation by students, staff, and family members. The greater our participation levels, the more likely it will be that we can prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Also – it should be noted that the Maine Department of Education has determined that individuals who participate in Pooled Testing will not need to quarantine if it is determined that they have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 at school, so long as their individual follow-up test is negative, they are asymptomatic, and they were not unmasked within 3’ of the positive case. (If exposed to a positive case outside of school, quarantining will still be necessary for unvaccinated individuals.)

How do I provide consent for my student to participate in Pooled Testing?

No student will be tested without consent of a parent/guardian (except those who are 18 may provide their own consent). In order to provide consent for the Pooled Testing program, please follow the steps indicated below.

Yarmouthrowe (for Rowe School students)

Yarmouthelementary (for Yarmouth Elementary School students)

Yarmouthharrison (for Harrison Middle School students)

Yarmouthhigh (for Yarmouth High School students)

Where can I learn more about the Pooled Testing Program?

The Maine Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services have developed an informational document that provides answers to many questions you may have about this program. Please access their Frequently Asked Questions document here, and reach out to your student’s school nurse if you have additional questions.

Rowe School (Jennifer Chadwick)      jennifer_chadwick@yarmouthschools.org

Yarmouth Elementary (Alison Thompson)     alison_thompson@yarmouthschools.org

Harrison Middle School (Kristina Truesdale)  kristina_truesdale@yarmouthschools.org

Yarmouth High School (Melanie Lord)  melanie_lord@yarmouthschools.org (After September 15)

Thank you for taking the time to enroll your student in our testing program. A high level of participation will be critical to our success as we attempt to minimize the transmission of COVID-19.