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MDI Schools To Begin Weekly COVID-19 Testing Regimen

Public schools on Mount Desert Island will begin testing teachers and staff each week as part of an effort to monitor the spread of the new coronavirus.

Superintendent Marc Gousse says the program will begin in early December, with voluntary testing of the district’s nearly 500 employees. Then about 100 employees, without symptoms, will be tested every two weeks through next summer.

“And then from there, establish two cohorts, where we can do sentinel testing. And what that will allow us to do is assess whether or not we have community spread of COVID-19 in our schools,” he says. “It’ll be individuals like bus drivers, teachers, nurses. People that have high contact. People that are contract service providers, like occupational therapists. People that may have some transiency. Those will be the key people to identify through this sentinel testing.”

Gousse says the cost of the program for this school year has been covered by grants and partnerships with local hospitals and institutions. But he says the district plans to budget around $80,000 to continue testing next school year.

Gousse says he is unaware of other districts testing asymptomatic employees, a strategy similar to the one embraced by several Maine colleges.

Even with testing in place, he Gousse is urging the community to continue to be vigilant around hygiene, social distancing and mask wearing to limit the spread of the virus.