Dana Hall now testing weekly for COVID-19

Starting in December 2020, all students and faculty who come to campus are required to be tested for COVID-19. Dana Hall did not test on campus during the fall. When Trimester II began, the School did one testing session after Thanksgiving break before allowing students and faculty to return to campus. Starting in January 2021, Dana Hall requires everyone on campus to be tested regularly. Boarding students are tested every week, and hybrid students and faculty are tested at the beginning of their on-campus week. 

Ms. Alanna Shuman, one of Dana Hall’s nurses, said that Dana Hall started testing everyone who comes to campus because “As the pandemic has just continued to get worse and hitting our height, this was the safest way to keep you guys in school.” A lot of parents and faculty had pushed for testing because it makes everyone feel safer, Ms. Shuman also stated. 

Dana Hall tests all faculty and students on the first day back of their in-person week. Parents receive an email to fill out a questionnaire and COVID test for their daughter for the following week, and then each student is emailed an assigned time slot for testing in order to avoid lines and wait time. Dana Hall schedules people based on their schedules and their availability throughout the day. Director of the Upper School Jessica Kiemowitz said, “We look at when all students have a study hall, and we schedule them for a COVID test during that time. If a student doesn’t have a study time on Monday, then that student is typically scheduled during a longer passing time between classes or for part of Conference Period.” Local day student Phoebe Frechette ’22 said, “I wish we could schedule our own tests during the day because if I have a free period, it is more helpful to schedule it then.”

Boarding student Ruby DeLuca Lowell ’22, who lived locally in the first trimester, said, “I feel safer with [testing], and it’s not much of a hassle on my end. I get tested every single Monday, and I think the system they have going is pretty good and easy to work with. The one problem for me is having to put in the request for testing on our parents’ side.”

Each person who is tested receives an individual email with results. If someone tests positive, then Dana Hall emails the community but does not name the student. If a student receives positive results during the day, they have to report to the Health Center, and a parent must pick them up. Once a student tests positive, they have to alert the nurses of their close contacts for that day, and the school then emails each of those people. If a student is not present on the day of testing, they are not allowed to return to school that week. As of February 8, there have been 2361 tests administered and five positive cases from the Dana Hall testing, as well as three positive cases with tests administered outside of Dana Hall. 

Dana Hall has created a dashboard for COVID-19 testing on the Dana Hall website. There is a bar graph for positive cases, with one color for positive cases with Dana Hall tests and the other color for positive cases reported to Dana Hall by other testing sites. Another bar graph shows how many tests are administered on each day of testing. The data is updated each Friday. 

Two different organizations are used for testing. Ms. Shuamn said, “The main institute we use is called the Broad Institute, and they are the top line institute for testing. They do a lot of the testing for independent schools and for colleges in the area. We also use CIC, and they are basically our middle man so they give us all the testing materials and once they are done testing we give the materials back to CIC and they bring it to Broad.” The tests administered are individual tests and “have been working really well,” Ms. Shuman said.

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