Middlesex County is partnering with East Brunswick and its Board of Education to implement a unique model for testing students and faculty to prevent and abate the spread of COVID-19 as the new school season begins.
This pilot testing program will invite students, faculty and staff to get tested on a voluntary basis by onsite school nurses using the breakthrough COVID-19 saliva test kits, providing accurate results within 48 hours. In tandem with contact tracing, the program will prevent and dramatically reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus in East Brunswick’s school system, allowing students and staff to resume in-person learning safely, according to information provided by the Middlesex County Office of Communication.
“We’re taking drastic and aggressive measures to protect the county’s student, faculty and staff population during the school year,” Freeholder Director Ronald Rios said in the statement. “In this unprecedented time in history, we’re making bold moves. Partnering with the Township of East Brunswick on this pilot testing program shows our commitment to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of our students and staff as they continue their education during a pandemic.”
“This is one giant step forward in returning to normalcy for these students and faculty members who have been asked to change their day-to-day lives since the pandemic,” East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen said in the statement. “In-person learning is critical for effective and quality education. As we slowly welcome students back to our facilities, we want to provide peace of mind to parents, students and faculty that we’re using the latest technologies and innovating at every turn to combat COVID-19 head-on.”
“Offering widespread testing will greatly reduce potential COVID-19 cases and give us the data necessary to stop the virus in its tracks,” Dr. Victor Valeski, superintendent of the East Brunswick Public School District, said in the statement. “This model for testing a vast population at once and using statistical analysis to predict outbreaks will put us ahead of the COVID-19 curve. If this pilot proves successful, we anticipate many more townships across Middlesex County to implement a similar testing model at their schools to proactively fight this virus with the goal of bringing students back to a regular educational routine.”
The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) deployed its COVID-19 testing model utilizing a mathematical algorithm early this summer to promote the safety of its cadets as they returned for training on-site. A percentage of the cadet population were tested on a scheduled weekly basis and then randomly. Statistics ascertained by proactive testing provided the necessary information to identify positive COVID-19 cases quickly and thereby allowing contract tracing to begin immediately, curtailing the spread of the virus. Since the testing program began there has been less than 1% of COVID-19 cases reported at the USAFA, according to the statement.
In East Brunswick, the model will look similar with testing occurring on a voluntary basis of 15% of the student and staff population at one time. After each group is tested, the statistics gathered would be analyzed for further actions including additional testing of samples, contact tracing, etc., according to the statement.
Parental consent would be required for students and staff can participate upon their discretion. The more participants that join this pilot program, the more impactful the outcome for combating COVID-19 in schools.
Testing will be provided at no cost.