One of the key contributors to Belmont Hill and Winsor’s success in continuing to have classrooms in-person has been their extensive COVID testing programs. Their considerable investments in their COVID testing facilities and equipment have enabled the whole school-wide testing of their members every week. Belmont Hill and Winsor’s COVID testing are both in place to achieve the same goal: to ensure there will be no community spread. To give insight into each school’s process, let’s take a look at how the two compare.
Every week at Belmont Hill, students go down to the Jordan Athletic Center on Monday and Tuesday (half of the student body has their testing on one of the two testing days) and get tested. At the Jordan, students during their free block in the same pool (approximately five students in each) line up in front of two distanced tables, waiting to be called upon by the sample-collectors. The sample-collectors collect the students’ swab samples and place them into a combined pool vial. The completed pools are then sent off to the lab for testing, with results typically sent back within the same day of testing. Once the results are in, students receive an email from CIC Health, giving them the option to see their results by typing in their case number and date of birth with the totality of the data released to the community after weekly testing has completed. The procedure for faculty members and boarding students is similar, but instead of the designated Mondays and Tuesdays, they receive individual, non-pooled testing on Thursdays. Thanks to testing, the school has experienced almost no community spread and students and faculty remain in good spirit and health.
On Thursdays, Winsor students head down to the Wildcat Room to get their COVID tests in groups that are predetermined on a weekly basis during flex time. The locker rooms, once derelict at the beginning of the school year, are now bustling with students filtering through to get their COVID tests done. While the tests used to be administered by sample-collectors, recently, Winsor has implemented a new testing system in which Upper School students perform self-administered tests with the help of a faculty member. Three socially-distanced desks or testing stations have been set up in front of the locker rooms, complete with disinfectant sprays and hand sanitizers to ensure that students can conduct their own nasal swabs safely. Later in the day, after the samples have been sent to PhysiciansOne, Windsor’s testing company, the parents of students with positive or inconclusive results are contacted by Mrs. Sneider, the school nurse, and weekly updates are sent out by email containing a summary of that week’s results. Overall, the testing process has been efficient and effective, helping Winsor to keep our community safe and healthy.
Belmont Hill and Winsor’s COVID testing program has ensured the safety of their faculty and students. Though their testing layouts and methods may be different, they have allowed the continuation of in-person classes. And as both schools reach March break, marking seven months of in-person class during the pandemic, we all have much gratitude for the investment that both schools made to their testing programs.