Pool testing expanding to cover more in early care settings

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – A small pool testing program that caught 37 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases in early education and child care settings in 2021 is about to be expanded substantially through a partnership between the state, Neighborhood Villages, and the Biden administration.

Massachusetts will be the first state to apply the federal government’s Operation Expanded Testing to the child care sector, allowing the Department of Early Education and Care and Neighborhood Villages to increase testing from the 27,000 free tests administered during the months-long pilot program this summer to 13,000 tests of children and staff a week.

The testing will be administered by Affinity Empowering, Inc. as part of Operation Expanded Testing, which is a federally-funded program that offers no-costs surveillance testing to schools and community organizations. EEC will also contribute funding. Neighborhood Villages, a Boston-base non-profit started in 2017 by Lauren Kennedy and Sarah Muncey, said more than 260 child care providers have signed up to participate in the program.

“As we continue to confront the Delta variant, this program is essential to keeping our care providers, children and families safe – and allowing our parents to continue to work,” Muncey said.

Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy called testing a “vital mitigation strategy” to keep programs open and available to working families.

“We are thrilled to be scaling this program to support the health and safety of the families, children, and providers throughout Massachusetts,” Aigner-Treworgy said.

The Department of Public Health’s most recent report identified 1,171 cases of COVID-19 in children age 4 and under over the past two weeks.

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