This policy memo outlines two key strategies for state and local leaders looking to more safely reopen their schools: enhancing school air quality and implementing robust screening testing programs to stop outbreaks before they begin. The memo summarizes insights outlined in a recent public event featuring Dr. Joseph G. Allen, President Anthony Monaco and Vice Provost for Research Caroline Attardo Genco of Tufts University, Dr. KJ Seung, and Mayor Joseph Curtatone of Someville, MA.
Better air quality can reduce the risk of airborne COVID-19 transmission in indoor settings. Robust air ventilation, filtration, and protocols can help schools protect their students, faculty, and staff from the virus. Partnering with the Broad Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Tufts University implemented a large-scale, screening testing program for its students, faculty, and staff. Using pooled testing to test multiple samples at once, Tufts was able to test many members of its community through this cost-efficient and effective program. The university then assisted its surrounding communities of Somerville and Medford as they sought to launch testing efforts for their schools as well.
Several key considerations for state and local leaders examined in this memo include:
Ensuring high air quality in schools through ventilation, air filtration, and other techniques and processes.
Partnering with laboratories and universities for testing.
Developing a robust test results notification protocol.
Implementing contact tracing protocols.
Augmenting personnel capacity for testing processes.
Engaging the community to support the testing program and foster consent.
Establishing strong information technology and logistics systems for testing program coordination.
For further information and to discuss the content of this memo: contact the Program in Global Public Policy at Department of Global Medicine & Social Change at Harvard Medical School (firstname.lastname@example.org).