December 8, 2020
Dear BB&N Community,
In our ongoing efforts to keep our school open in a safe, smart, and resilient manner, I want to update you on a couple of topics related to our testing plan.
Pooled Testing Pilot—Grades 11 & 12
We are excited to announce that BB&N has been selected to pilot a pooled COVID-19 testing program with Concentric by Ginkgo (“Concentric”) starting this week. This solution works by combining swab samples from groups of 20 students, faculty, and staff into one specimen that is then tested for COVID-19. Pooled testing offers us the opportunity to increase our frequency of testing with students across the school in a manner that does not substantially disrupt our instructional time. The major question with pooled testing is that a single positive test means that the entire pool needs to be individually tested. However, given that we have conducted 4,111 tests so far this year with 4 positive results (a positivity rate of less than 0.1%), we feel that the benefits of pooled testing far outweigh this concern. This pilot will allow us better understand the pooled testing process, so we can plan for an effective rollout in the future.
Given the time-sensitive nature of the pilot, we plan to pilot this pooled testing program with volunteers from our Junior and Senior classes on Thursday, December 10 and, potentially, Thursday, December 17. This additional program does not alter our already established plan for re-entry testing after the winter break (information about registering will be emailed to families later this week) and our weekly faculty/staff testing program.
Students and faculty and staff who volunteer to participate in this pilot will provide a self-administered nasal swab sample during school, which will be pooled in a group of up to 20 students, faculty, and staff. Pooling does not generate individual test results and BB&N will not be reporting these overall results. However, if a pooled test result reads for the presence of the virus, the school will contact all of the participants in that pool so that each individual may pursue an individual PCR test. The school will work closely with individuals in these situations to facilitate testing.
A couple of other things families should know about the test being used as part of this pilot:
- The test being evaluated is not approved or authorized by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and test results should not be used to make medical decisions.
- BB&N is participating in this pilot to assess the ease and effectiveness of the sample collection process for classroom pooled testing for our own use as well as to provide Concentric with data that will support their work to develop innovative testing solutions to benefit many different kinds of schools.
- Additionally, this pilot program will guide BB&N in our efforts to create a pooled testing program across the almost 1,400 students, faculty, and staff who we would like to ultimately include in our pooled testing program.
For any Junior on campus Thursday, December 10th and December 17th, or Senior on campus Thursday, December 10th, who is interested in participating in this pilot, please complete this form by tomorrow (Wednesday, December 9) at 10:00AM. All participants age 18 and older or a parent/guardian for minors must sign the attached Concentric Consent. We apologize for the short turnaround for indicating your interest in participating, but registration details were finalized by Concentric this morning and we need to move quickly in order to complete the pilot before winter break.
Reporting About Positive Cases
I also want to provide families with some clarity about when we do and do not report news about positive individual cases to our entire community. The model we have been following all year is if the positive individual case involves any type of on-campus exposure or was discovered as a result of our testing, we will report that outcome to the community. If the case involves someone who was working or learning remotely, or was not on campus during the time of potential exposure, then we do not report that result to the community. These protocols are based on informing our community of any potential risk, while also respecting individual privacy.
I want to thank all of you—teachers, staff, students, and parents—for everything you are doing to keep our school safe. Each and every day that BB&N remains open for our students makes that incredible commitment and effort more than worth it. It is my hope that a pooled testing solution will help us with this goal.
Dr. Jennifer Price
Head of School