FRAMINGHAM – “I am pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has confirmed that they have approved Framingham’s Pooled Testing application,” announced Framingham Public Schools Superintendent Bob Tremblay tonight, January 29.
The District submitted more detailed information to the DESE this week, as requested, and we expect to be receiving notification early next week about the testing vendor that will be assigned to work with our district, explained Tremblay.
All students returning to in-person learning will be asked to submit consent forms to participate in Pooled Testing, said Tremblay.
Pooled testing is not for remote students.
This is provided and recommended by the state, said the Superintenent.
“These tests combine respiratory samples from several students and then conduct one laboratory test on the combined pool of samples to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. If a pooled test result is negative, then all individuals within that pool are presumed negative and may remain in school. If a pooled test result is positive, then all individuals in the pool must be retested individually,” explained Tremblay.
Tremblay recently said pooled testing is one of the reasons why he is okay with allowing students to return to the classroom, before the district reached 4% or lower positive rates for COVID combined with less than 10 new coronavirus cases per day over a 14-week period in the City of Framingham.
Another plus for the return to hybrid and in-person learning is the promise of COVID-19 vaccines for k-12 staff coming as soon as late February but before the end of the school year.
Tremblay has requested all teachers return to their physical classrooms starting Monday, February 1.
Most of students have not been in their classroom since mid-March 2020, when the pandemic began.
Over the summer, the teachers union negotiated a MOU about a return to the classrooms with the district & the School Committee.
When school was supposed to start in September, Framingham was considered a high-risk community for the coronavirus. Due to that, the district started the school year remotely as opposed to a hybrid model.
In October, phase 1, or the district’s highest needs students return to the classrooms.
In November, phase II, of the district’s high need students returned to the classrooms.
The majority of the students about 8,500 of the district’s 9,000+ students were still learning remotely at that time.
After Thanksgiving, and a second surge of the coronavirus, the City of Framingham and the school district decided to make the entire district remote as of December 7.
Students in phase 1 and phase 2 are scheduled to return back to the classrooms February 3.
Students in phases 3 & 4, are not scheduled to return to the classroom until February 22, which at that time Fall II athletics could begin.