By mid-March, GENETWORx, a national diagnostic molecular laboratory headquartered in Glen Allen, Virgina, announced the launch of a COVID-19 pooled testing program specifically aimed at helping millions of students in kindergarten through 12th-grade return to the classroom for in-person learning. GENETWORx stated that it has the capacity to perform COVID-19 tests on millions of schoolchildren each day and up to 60 million tests a month with its K-12 testing program.
The pooled COVID-19 testing program offered by GENETWORx provides a comprehensive managed platform to take the pressure off school districts as they reopen. The company, which specializes in COVID-19, infectious disease, and pharmacogenomic testing, has extensive expertise and success in school testing programs nationwide at the college and university level as well as with assisted living facilities, state and emergency management organizations, and businesses.
Pooled testing provides school and public health officials with a surveillance detection system for the presence of the COVID-19 virus in large student populations at a significantly reduced cost. With pooled testing, individual swabs or samples are “pooled” together and run as one sample test at the lab. Unless a positive test occurs in the “pool,” individual tests are not performed thus lowering costs for schools. The GENETWORx pooled testing solution is unique in that school districts and businesses also have the option of collecting a second sample at the same time in case the “pool” contains a positive test result. The second swab allows for a timely read of individual results when needed. For more information, visit schooltesting.genetworx.com.
“Pooled testing works like an insurance policy for schools and parents,” said Matthew J. Beckman, Ph.D., GENETWORx Director of Laboratory Services. “Millions of school children can be tested in smaller groups of multiswab collections or “pools” at regular intervals during the school year to help schools create “safe zones” for in-person learning. In order for schools to reopen safely, they need fast, accurate, and low-cost precision testing to help prevent the spread of the virus. We created the GENETWORx K-12 testing solution specifically to assist school districts right now as they implement protocols to keep students and teachers safe while in the classroom,” explained Beckman.
President Biden has stated that his number one priority for education is to reopen schools. Ten billion dollars in federal funding has been allocated to school districts for a “massive expansion of testing” that would include increased use of rapid tests, expanding lab capacity to process tests faster, and aid to schools and local governments to carry out testing programs.
“American children in kindergarten through 12th-grade have been among those hit the hardest by the pandemic’s shutdown of normal life,” said Beckman. “We are committed to assisting schools in returning these students to classrooms. Safe classrooms are possible both during the pandemic and post-pandemic with sequential testing programs that alert school officials of potential outbreaks. Risk is not an option anymore and with our cost-effective managed K-12 school testing programs, schools will have more ability and data to help keep large student populations and teachers safe,” he explained.
Under the K-12 school testing program, GENETWORx can work with school districts to determine the best testing approach for their populations. Self-administered testing at home for faculty and staff 18 years and older is offered using GENETWORx FDA authorized anterior nasal test kit. Test results are delivered in 24 hours from receipt at the lab.
The K-12 testing program helps create “safe zones” by utilizing a software platform called Aura that is user-friendly, can be accessed on phones or computers, and ties together all aspects of the testing program in an end-to-end digital management system. The Aura app provides an easy way for administrators to monitor student populations during the sequential testing process, expedite testing, and assist with verified school entry. The app also alerts schools as well as parents when a positive result occurs so that outbreaks can be minimized or prevented altogether.
With GENETWORx investment during the past year in laboratory infrastructure to meet American testing needs during the pandemic, the company has significant capacity to assist school districts nationwide. It has performed over 5 million COVID-19 tests since the pandemic first began.