BOSTON (CBS) — Early education and childcare programs across Massachusetts will soon have access to COVID-19 pooled testing.

Any early education or care provider in the state will be able to test all staff, teachers, and children ages two or older every week for free. The program was created by a Boston-based non-profit called Neighborhood Villages, who will be operating it in partnership with Veritas.

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The program began in December 2020 as a pilot protocol for early education and after-school programs in the Greater Boston area.

“Pooled testing has proved to be a critical mitigation strategy in detecting positive cases among asymptomatic individuals that might have otherwise been undetected. Bringing this testing strategy to child care programs and after school programs will be another important step in our fight against COVID-19,” said Early Education Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy.

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The whole process takes about 36 hours and will help care facilities stay open. Registration is already underway and testing will start in the middle of this month.

Between May 20-26, there were 250 coronavirus cases among students and staff in Massachusetts schools, according to the latest data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

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That was down significantly from 407 in the previous week’s report. Staff