Published: 22-11-2021 13:29:08
BOSTON — Thirty-three cases of COVID-19 from more than 40,000 tests conducted on teachers, staff and students at childcare programs across the state have been discovered since September as part of a partnership between the state and nonprofit Neighborhood Villages.
The program, which is being run in partnership between Neighborhood Villages and the Department of Pre-School Education and Care, began as a pilot in the summer and was expanded this fall with support from Operation Expanded Testing, a federally funded program that offers free surveillance testing to schools and colleges. civil society.
Neighborhood Villages said on Monday that since the expansion in September, 42,431 teachers, staff and students have been tested, with 33 positive results, for a positivity rate of 0.077%. The 10 positive cases detected during the week of November 8-14 were the most since the program expanded on September 20.
“Consistent, comprehensive testing of our early education and care sector — particularly without a vaccine available to these young children — is key to ensuring our teachers, staff and children remain safe while these programs remain open and operating for families,” said Neighborhood Villages co-chair Sarah Muncey. “We are thrilled with the immediate and growing success of this groundbreaking testing program in which Massachusetts leads the nation in providing free, comprehensive COVID testing in the childcare industry.”
Massachusetts was the first state in the country to apply Operation Expanded Testing to the childcare sector, and since September, enrollment has grown from 76 programs to 230, with the number of tests administered each week increasing from 2,560 to 7,189.
More than half of the most recent weekly tests – 4,296 – were performed on children under 17. The program can reach 13,000 tests per week, with the tests being conducted by Affinity Empowering, Inc.
While children 5 and older are now eligible for vaccination, younger children in day care programs are still not eligible. As of November 17, in the past two weeks, 1,166 cases of COVID-19 had been detected in children aged 4 and under, and a further 5,061 cases in children aged 5 to 14.
State-funded pooled tests are currently offered at K-12 schools.