COVID Tests Raise Member’s Concerns on School Board

By Alex Malm

At the Sept.7 Londonderry School Board meeting one of the agenda items was in regards to COVID-19 pooled testing.
It was explained by Londonderry Superintendent Scott Laliberte that the state of New Hampshire allocated funding for school districts if they want to participate in a pooled testing program for COVID-19. He said that they took the appropriate steps for the district to participate in the program if they wanted to do so.
It would be a voluntary opt-in program meaning that parents or guardians would have to sign up their children in order for them to participate in it.
The way it would work is nurses from an outside agency would come to the schools to help manage people swabbing their noses.
Once the test is completed the test sample is then pooled together. They can have up to 25 people per pool. Each individual pool is based on the school, and if they have more than 25 students then they would have multiple testing pools at the school.
They do the testing weekly and if it comes back negative they just repeat it the following week.
If it comes back positive the next school day the nurse would come back and test the pool with a rapid test to determine who tested positive for COVID.
It was explained that the main benefit of the program is to be able to catch asymptotic spread in schools quicker, which is why the State allocated funding towards it.
The School Board was told that it would be no cost to the district to participate in the program.
School Board member Bob Slater explained that he wanted to have a discussion about the policy since he first found out that the school district would be participating in the program by reading a newspaper article.
He said that he had an issue with it not being brought to the school board for them to discuss since it was a policy that the school board is supposed to decide on.
“It can’t happen, to me this becomes a policy, school board sets policy so why wouldn’t it be brought to us,” he said.
Sara Loughlin, the vice chair of the school board said that she wanted to be able to get more information about the program before she could make a decision about it. Amy Finamor, the chair of the school board also agreed.
Slater ultimately made a motion to rescind Londonderry from participating in the pool testing program until they can get more information about it and have a public hearing on it so more info could be brought forward and any questions that people still have could be answered before the school board makes a policy about it.
Laliberte said they would suspend the progress on the program until they can come back to the Board and present them with more information and more details. He said they would voluntarily half their participation for now which meant they didn’t have to rescind the policy at the meeting.
Slater apologized to the community saying he should’ve realized sooner that it was in the reopening plan.
“I should’ve caught that and I apologize,” he said.

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