At the beginning of January, Lexington Public Schools developed #LexGetScreened, a new surveillance testing plan in service agreement with Mirimus Clinical Labs. Through this program, LPS hopes to identify undetected asymptomatic carriers and improve community safety.
This procedure has been recommended by the state of Massachusetts.
“[Surveillance testing] is recommended in order to reduce the risk of asymptomatic transmission once the level of community spread has exceeded 20/100,000 daily new cases,” the Harvard Global Health Institute said. LPS has recently reached 21/100,000 positive COVID cases.
The testing process started with staff members on Jan. 13. Middle and high school students started testing on the week of Jan. 19.
Because funds from the CARES Act have been reduced, continued COVID surveillance testing relies on community donations to succeed. So far, Lexington residents and groups have raised at least $20,000 for surveillance testing.
Chinese Americans of Lexington, known as CALex – an organization that has donated $2,500 to the Lexington Education Foundation) – cites the importance of testing.
“[Testing] helps a lot […] Especially for students […]they go outside and they meet with others in places they are not familiar with. Providing testing helps them know if they have COVID or not,” Houze Xu, CALex president and LHS parent, said.
However, the LEF needs at least $200,000 to fund the service, a requirement which has not been met yet.
Additionally, some eligible students and faculty aren’t participating in testing.
“We had 394 surveillance tests submitted today by Cohort A students and faculty— that’s about 40% participation,” Andrew Stephens, the LHS principal,wrote in an email sent out on Jan. 20.
Although LPS attempted to streamline the process by providing detailed testing instructions online, some students still found it difficult.
“The drop-off/pick-up dates for the testing samples are often confusing for me,” Ireh Hong, a sophomore, said.
Despite these obstacles, the testing plan has allowed those at school to feel more comfortable.
“I feel safer knowing that I am not passing on the virus to my family members unknowingly,” Nathan Lim, a sophomore, said.