Amherst schools won’t need National Guard for pooled testing

  • Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools Superintendent Michael Morris notified families on Friday that the district will not need members of the National Guard to help with COVID pooled testing. The testing is set to begin Monday at the elementary level, followed a week later at the middle and high schools. Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 10/18/2021 3:33:39 PM

AMHERST — Amherst public schools will not need members of the National Guard to be on campuses and in school buildings for COVID-19 pooled testing when it begins next Monday.

In a weekly newsletter sent to families Friday, Superintendent Michael Morris announced that pooled testing would start first in the elementary schools, then on Nov. 1 at the middle and high schools, with all staff hired by CIC Health, the state contractor.

“Testing will be administered by the vendor’s staff,” Morris wrote.

The announcement means that assistance from the National Guard, which Gov. Charlie Baker had offered school districts as a means of getting the pooled testing program underway where staff couldn’t be hired, will not be necessary.

Members of the Amherst Regional School Committee at their Oct. 12 meeting expressed support for pooled testing, thanked the governor for making the offer and appreciated that the National Guard could do the work. But members also said they worried about the presence of uniformed personnel in the schools before getting community reaction to the idea.

Following the meeting, the committee issued a statement that it would need more input from residents and parents before giving the go-ahead to having the National Guard involved in testing.

Any student or staff participating in pooled testing has to register and provide consent.

Morris also wrote that the district had gone 15 days without a positive COVID-19 case.

“I believe that the hard work and diligence of our students and staff in following our COVID safety protocols has helped make that possible,” Morris wrote.

One of the protocols he cited was the state mandate to keep bus windows open when students are being transported to school. That will continue to remain in place as weather gets colder, meaning students on board will need to increasingly bundle up.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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