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Corona pool tests in schools: successful pilot project by BIS and SYNLAB

The Bavarian International School (BIS) and the Augsburg-based laboratory diagnostics company SYNLAB have successfully completed a three-week pilot project phase. The aim of the cooperation was to demonstrate that larger school cohorts can be systematically screened using simple, fast and painless corona tests via gargling procedures and saliva spit pools, thus enabling the early detection of Covid-19 infection clusters, the identification of highly infectious individuals and the focused and selective quarantine of appropriate school cohorts.
A saliva spit pool was used to identify an asymptomatic student with positive results and to prevent further spread of the virus. The students of levels 3 to 12 also showed that the sampling by gargling can be done by the students themselves per class within a few minutes.
"We are proactive and innovative in our corona safety and prevention measures for students and employees. The pilot project with gargle and pool tests was easy to implement because it was convenient and non-invasive for the students and therefore harmless for parents and teachers - anyone can gargle with water and spit into a container. Overall, we have such a good warning system to catch asymptomatic, positive cases before the virus spreads further within the school community," said Dr. Chrissie Sorenson, Head of School and Executive Board Member of Bavarian International School (BIS) as the first conclusion of the cooperation with SYNLAB.  A competence team of the school headed by BIS nurse Julia Lönker along with the SYNLAB Corona Task Force led by Dr. Alexander Hauenschild, coordinated the pilot project.
Media link: Read the article about this cooperation in the "Süddeutsche Zeitung": Click here! 
Very simple: The central element of the pilot project is the so-called saliva spitting Class Pool. This involves BIS students in a class passing a small booth and spitting into a prepared container containing a virus-activating liquid. The process takes only a few minutes per class. These class pool samples are then analysed in the laboratory by SYNLAB using the established PCR test procedures. In this approach, each individual sample is considerably diluted, so that not every infection can be diagnosed. "This is not the goal," says Dr. Alexander Hauenschild, who initiated the pilot project for SYNLAB, "it has been shown that the vast majority of infections in clusters are caused by individual so-called super-spreaders - individuals who sometimes do not even show symptoms. We have to find these systematically". 

Simple, effective, without medical staff

The BIS team also demonstrated how to effectively take gargle samples from students "right in the classroom" in just a few minutes. Prepared gargle sets are distributed. The students gargle with water, spit it into a sample container and transfer it into a vacuum tube. This takes less than 5 minutes per class. Again, no medical staff is required. The advantage: Only if a positive case occurs in a saliva spit class pool, each student must provide an individual sample by gargling - a significant relief for the test laboratories and health authorities.

"The systematic detection of cluster infections and super-spreaders not only results in meaningful quarantine scenarios, but also serves primarily as a preventive measure, because very rapid tracing is possible. In this way, these school screenings can help to ensure that schools and kindergartens remain open," says Julia Lönker from the BIS health team.

The pilot project is part of the extensive catalog of measures of the Bavarian International School (BIS) for the prevention and containment of the Corona virus. In addition to the classic AHA rules (distance, hygiene, everyday mask), these include guidance systems, ventilation concepts, alternative room solutions, the separation of classrooms, rolling canteen use, testing of air filter systems and, above all, a proactive, up-to-date information policy for parents, students and staff.