BEVERLY, MA — Beverly Schools will adopt new state coronavirus testing for students and staff that includes shifting to free at-home weekly tests and the elimination of in-school test-and-stay and contact tracing practices.
Beverly Superintendent Sue Charochak confirmed the decision to make the optional switch to Patch.
"We will continue with the symptomatic testing that we have been doing in all our schools," Charochak said. "The new program will be helpful as it allows testing for all students and staff regardless of their vaccination status. We have been using a form of rapid at-home testing for staff for the past few weeks in partnership with the city of Beverly and have found it helpful as a mitigation strategy."
The dramatic change in state guidance shifts much of the student coronavirus testing burden from schools to individual families is forcing North Shore districts to make a call of whether to largely abandon many of the testing protocols they have spent more than a year implementing and fine-tuning.
School contact tracing and test-and-stay programs have been widely praised for keeping in-school transmission relatively low but are also heavily taxing on school nurses' offices.
"We also believe this new program will be very helpful as it will alleviate the extra burden of contact tracing on our nurses, allowing them to concentrate on providing direct health services to our students," Charochak said.
(Scott Souza is a Patch field editor covering Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at Scott.Souza@Patch.com. Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)