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Tucson Unified tracking COVID spread with "pool" testing

COVID-19 Pool Testing at Tucson Unified School District
Posted at 6:04 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 20:07:27-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — All Tucson Unified School District schools are offering COVID-19 pool testing to students and staff.

"I have a kiddo in one of our schools and she tests regularly. It makes my husband and I, even though she's vaccinated, feel better," said Leslie Lenhart with Tucson Unified School District.

The district approved this type of testing back in August. They partnered with Ginkgo Bioworks, who is testing in over 1,000 schools across the United States.

"We're now testing in over 300 schools across Arizona. That impact was dramatically increased by Tucson Unified," said Ginkgo Bioworks Vice President, Tim Lyden.

14% of the district's students and staff have signed up to take part in testing. The nasal swabs are tested together in small groups or "pools." If a pool tests positive, each person in the pool is tested individually to determine who is sick.

"We can then pull them out of the classroom and get them home safely, where they can isolate or go into quarantine, as needed," said Lenhart.

Since September, the district has discovered 184 positive COVID cases in the 2,367 pools tested. TUSD said the process is helping limit COVID spread and keep schools open.

"We have been talking about how to help overcome and share some of the positives for anyone who is hesitant to join. Those efforts will start in January, after we get back from winter break," said Lenhart.

For more information about COVID-19 mitigation Tucson Unified School District, click here.