Pool testing for COVID-19 launching in Mass. schools

A new weekly pool COVID-19 testing program will be available to Massachusetts schools as part of an effort to bring more students back into the classroom, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday.

Baker and his administration's education officials have regularly been promoting in-person learning, and the governor said Friday that "too many kids remain learning remotely or in complicated hybrid programs."

Baker said pool testing increases the number of people who can be tested using the same amount of lab resources, and will "help schools quickly test students and staff, helping to find and isolate any cases of COVID-19."

"Pool testing will provide additional safeguards to stop the spread and give students, parents, teachers and staff confidence that it is safe to be in schools, and this new testing will give school officials more knowledge about what's happening inside their buildings every day," Baker said.

Public schools in Massachusetts reported 431 new cases of COVID-19 among students and staff between Dec. 24 and Jan. 6, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Salem, Watertown and Medford recently launched pool testing with good results, Education Commissioner Jeff Riley said.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also announced a new program through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center that aims to increase COVID-19 testing capacity in Massachusetts.