Let’s Test It Out: Winsor Unveils Plan for Student COVID-19 Testing

By Sophia L-D. ’22

Throughout the school year thus far, Winsor held off administering COVID-19 tests for students, instead choosing to implement strict and necessary safety rules on campus. In the weeks leading up to break, however, administrators announced to the community that student testing was imminent. Testing logistics and specifics were formally shared with the community at the end of winter break. Although the testing plan was effectively conveyed to the community in a very simple way, the process behind the scenes was anything but simple. 

On January 2nd, Mrs. Pelmas sent an email to the community that included a comprehensive outline for Winsor’s student testing policy and subsequent plan. Winsor is partnering with PhysicianOne Urgent Care and The Broad Institute to administer the PCR nasal swab tests to all students on campus. Families had to sign each of their children up for their first COVID-19 test, conducted on January 9th and 10th, to ensure the safety of the community when students switch from remote learning back to a hybrid schedule. In her email, Mrs. Pelmas wrote that “In order for students to return to campus on January 19th, they must have a negative PCR test result from January 9th or 10th.” Students learning remotely did not need to be tested, however.

In the same January 2nd email, Mrs. Pelmas wrote that testing would continue on a weekly basis once Winsor returns to its hybrid schedule. Lower Schoolers will be tested on Mondays and Upper Schoolers on Thursdays. Caroline C. ‘21 expressed excitement for student testing to begin, commenting that so far Winsor has “done a phenomenal job keeping COVID-19 cases to a minimum. Adding student testing to our current safety protocols will just make our community that much safer so that we can continue in-person learning.”

The administration worked hard to finalize details of the student COVID-19 tests, deciding on many variables. Mrs. Markenson revealed that the process was more complex than one might think. For example, “we had to decide if we would do pool testing vs. individual testing, spit vs. nasal swab, which provider to use, etc.” However, the absence of student testing was still frustrating to many. Prior to Mrs. Pelmas’ email, Claire A. ‘22 revealed that “given the high infection rates in Massachusetts right now and the fact that other private schools in the area have had the opportunity to get tested,” she looked forward to Winsor formally revealing its student testing plan in the coming weeks.  Franchesca V. ‘22 added that the lack of testing made it “more difficult to feel as protected and assured” of her safety when attending school in person.

However, the weekly plan to test students seems to reassure many of their safety on campus. As Ava K. ‘23 put it, “I am excited because I think that testing students will bring a lot of comfort to not only the student body, but also the community as a whole.”