COVID-19 Testing at Hackley

Sophomore+Catie+O%27Rourke+hands+in+her+sample.+The+testing+officials+are+there+to+log+the+samples+and+help+scan+QR+codes%2C+which+are+used+to+identify+the+sample+number.

Credit: Samantha Rowbottom

Sophomore Catie O’Rourke hands in her sample. The testing officials are there to log the samples and help scan QR codes, which are used to identify the sample number.

With the ongoing pandemic, a new normal comes to the campus. Every Friday, students come into school with a small vial of saliva ready to be pool-tested for COVID-19. After three weeks of pool testing, the process has been systemized and is running relatively smoothly given the size of the Hackley community. This testing is allowing students, faculty, and staff to attend school Monday through Friday, and it has been very effective, showing negative results for three weeks straight.
Every Friday, students drop off their vials and get their temperature taken under the arch, near the Lower School dropoff, or at the Johnson Center. These three points of access help keep lines manageable. Then students stand in one of six lines to drop off their samples. The wait time in these lines ranges from 10 to 20 minutes. After dropping off their sample, homerooms have a quick check-in before heading off to a modified day of classes. This schedule gives more than enough time to drop off samples so no one will miss class.
Several students shared their opinion on saliva testing. Sophomore Mason Napach said that weekly testing makes him feel safe being on campus. He also said that he feels that the method of testing is accurate; however, he struggles with filling up the vial. Mason said he does not mind the shortened classes; however, some teachers have scheduled tests or comps during these shortened periods.
Sophomore Ava Troso added that she agrees that testing every Friday is a great idea because it is very safe. She said that the spit test makes sense; it is the easiest COVID-19 testing method; however, she does not like the long wait to drop off the tests. In terms of the shortened classes, Ava enjoys them as they make Fridays easier and are a good transition into a productive weekend.
Junior Destiny Stephen said, “I think [the weekly testing] is smart because [the outbreak status] could change on a weekly basis.”
Destiny added that she thinks that spit testing is a lot more efficient; however, she has concerns on how effective it is. “Obviously it’s more efficient because we have so many people, but I don’t know how well it works, but since there’s so many people this is the best option.”
Freshman David Linette agreed with Ava and Mason in terms of testing every Friday, saying that he thinks it keeps the community safe and is therefore necessary. David thinks that the method of testing is good enough considering the size of our community, but he acknowledges that there might be other, more accurate methods. He also thinks that Friday schedules were “weird” and too different for comfort.
When Mr. Andrew King, Director of Upper School, was interviewed, he explained how his day-to-day schedule has been affected by Friday testing. Friday is a big day for him, as he is coordinating the testing process. He says he is getting used to this new system, and in his words, “We are going to keep testing as long as we can keep going.” This is comforting to hear as we will be kept safe for longer.
Mr. King explained that many new procedures have been implemented, such as teachers helping students hurry the process up and more scanning stations. He as well explained that trial and error and practicing will help make test drop-off more efficient.
“I am extremely proud of how it’s going, and it speaks to me about the respect for themselves and each other,” Mr. King said.
Mr. King explained that the protocol if a student tests positive for COVID, is to immediately contact the Westchester Department of Health. One case would most likely not affect the entire Hackley community, but would affect those in that testing pool and those who were in close contact with the student.
“Contact tracing” has been in effect at Hackley, which means taking a look at where the student sits in their classes using seating charts to see where they are throughout the day in order to make tracing possible illness contacts easier.. Westchester’s cases would also be a factor in keeping school in-person as if there is an increase in cases there may be slightly different protocols. The infected student would probably have to quarantine for 14 days and then they would get tested to see if they can come back.
Overall, testing is running smoothly at Hackley, and under the circumstances, students think the administration is doing the best they can. Although we all hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be over soon, the weekly testing is working well for us as a school.