Lewiston school Superintendent Jake Langlais receives his COVID-19 booster Nov. 18 during the vaccine clinic at Connor’s Elementary School in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Lewiston school administrators are concerned after 39 pooled COVID-19 tests revealed positive cases as of Wednesday night. Administrators expect this number to rise as they receive more results.

Thirty-nine positive pools means at least 39 students and staff in the district have the virus.

In a conversation Wednesday night, Superintendent Jake Langlais said the district has pooled testing results from Geiger, McMahon, Farwell, Montello and Connors elementary schools, as well as the Next STEP program at Longley school. McMahon and Farwell had the most positive pools, with each numbering in the teens.

Langlais said he doesn’t believe the district has had more than 10 positive pools in a week as a district, let alone a single school. Most of the people who tested positive were students, he added. In McMahon, 17 students and staff have tested positive this week, which is high for the district.

In a letter to the school community Wednesday night, Langlais said it may take days to complete contact tracing for all of the positive students.

As of now, Langlais said he is broadly concerned for the district’s operations and more worried about the cumulative effects of teachers, drivers and kitchen staff who are unable to work due to COVID-19.

It was clear that Lewiston Middle School previously needed to switch to remote learning due to the shortage of staff, Langlais said. He said he recognizes that remote learning is far less effective than in-person education and plans to do everything possible to keep students in classrooms. However, he said it is looking more possible that some students could soon be moved to remote learning.

Pooled COVID-19 testing is a surveillance method to identify students and staff with COVID-19 early to prevent outbreaks.

Participants in groups of no more than 20 each swab their nose and place it in a single test tube. One COVID-19 test is performed. If the result is positive, each member of the pooled testing group receives a rapid test to identify any positive student or staff member.

The Lewiston school district has used hundreds of rapid tests this week, depleting its supply.

Administrators expect to receive test results for Lewiston High School and Lewiston Middle School by Thursday morning.


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