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Maine Schools Will Soon Have Option Of Group Coronavirus Tests For Students And Staff

Students coronavirus
Yorgos Karahalis
Associated Press
High school students sit inside a class room at Glyfada, suburb west of Athens, Greece on Monday, April 12, 2021.

Both public and private K-12 schools in Maine will soon have the option to do free, weekly, pooled testing for COVID-19.

The administration of Gov. Janet Mills announced Tuesday that the state is partnering with Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks to offer the testing, which collects swabs from a small group of consenting students and staff and combines them into a single batch.

The Commissioner for the Department of Health and Human Services, Jeanne Lambrew, says it's a protective measure that can catch asymptomatic individuals.

"We know the next day, basically, maybe two days later, but mostly the next day, if anybody in that classroom, teacher or child or staff, is positive. And if one of those people is testing positive, then immediately we test everybody individually," Lambrew says.

The program will launch in mid-May and will continue through the next school year.