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Newton mandates COVID-19 testing for high schoolers in extracurricular activities

Newton’s superintendent has mandated that high school students involved in extracurricular activities must undergo COVID-19 testing, according to a message sent to families earlier this month.

The requirement covers North and South high school students in athletics programs, as well as any in-person extracurricular activities, according to Superintendent David Fleishman. Those students must be enrolled in the district’s weekly pool testing program.

The mandate comes as Newton plans to bring back more high school students into their buildings beginning April 26.

The district has made every effort to encourage voluntary participation in its COVID-19 testing program, Fleishman said.

But participation rates in the program are “not meeting expectations,” nor are they at the level at which the pool testing is useful in gauging infection rates, he said.

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COVID-19 cases are rising among young people, he said, and there have been outbreaks in other communities linked to athletics.

“We recognize that this is one more ask of our students in what has already been a highly stressful and difficult year,” Fleishman said in the message. “However, we believe this decision is best for the health and safety of our students and our entire school community.”


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.