As the school year comes to a close, we are reflecting on an incredibly challenging year and the incredible hard work of our team, our lab network, and the teachers, nurses, administrators, and students that have worked so hard helping to keep their communities safe with pooled testing.
In the six months since our first pilot of classroom pooling, we have swabbed over 600,000 noses at 950 schools in 19 states. Kids at these schools have become public health advocates and leaders, helping their classmates with useful swabbing tips (boogers down!) and just generally being superheroes.
With the year wrapping up, communities and families are starting to turn their attention to what school might look like in the fall. While the situation has thankfully improved across the country, we need to take action to ensure that rates continue to go down, and that we do not have to step back from any of the re-opening measures being announced by states across the country. Even as vaccination rates rise, students under the age of 12 are still waiting for approval of vaccines. To stay informed and to keep in-person learning open for as many students as possible, states and districts are making sure that regular testing is a part of their comprehensive public health plans for the fall.
We were also just selected by the state of Arizona to provide free pooled testing for any district, charter, or private school in the state that opts into the program. Support for this program and others across the country is entirely drawn from the federal American Rescue Plan funds through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which allocated $10 billion to states and territories for school testing. Arizona received approximately $219 million to “detect, diagnose, trace and monitor COVID-19 and prevent its spread” in schools, and has allocated $113.9 million for this comprehensive testing program.
Likewise, today we also announced our support for the school testing program in New Hampshire, which you can read about here.
Alongside schools in Arizona and New Hampshire, we’re part of the state-wide programs in Massachusetts, Maine, and Baltimore City and Montgomery County in Maryland. We’re also supporting pooled testing in city districts like Milwaukee, and we’re continuing to work with state and school leaders to understand their options for the fall and to make sure they have testing plans in place.
In the coming weeks, we will reach out to – and hear from – many more states and communities across the country as they set up their fall plans. With case counts going down and many regions opening up, we are optimistic for the end of the pandemic. But there’s still a lot of work left to do.
We started Concentric because everybody’s health is connected, and because the biological century needs to also be the century of biosecurity. It’s taken the incredible teamwork of citizens, scientists, medical professionals, public health experts, and countless workers and community members to get us this far. We’re incredibly grateful to all of them for being our partners and for their efforts, and we’re working everyday towards a world in which their sacrifices might not be necessary. We’re excited to get back to full density in our foundries, where we conduct our everyday business of making biology easier to engineer, and to helping families across the country get back to the everyday business of learning and working.