The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care is launching a statewide pooled COVID-19 testing program for early education centers around the state.
The state has offered pooled testing to K-12 schools across the state since February, but this is the first time it will be offered for free to early education centers.
State officials announced Thursday that they’ll be teaming up with non-profit organization Neighborhood Villages to provide pooled testing for early educators, children aged 2 and older and their families once per week at no cost to themselves and their families.
Individual samples will be bundled together and tested as a pool, and if any pool tests positive, everyone in that group will be re-tested individually.
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Neighborhood Villages has been running a pooled testing pilot program since December at early education and after-school programs.
Children under 12 years old are still not cleared to receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines. Clinical trials are still ongoing ahead of potential emergency use spproval later this year.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies providers in childcare settings as one of the groups that should be prioritized for COVID-19 screening. Pooled testing has been identified as one method of keeping COVID-19 positivity rates low in education and childcare settings.
Nationally, the early education and childcare workforce is 92% female and 41% people of color.