Brewer Community School’s finest want to remind kids that when swabbing their noses to test for COVID, they should place their used swabs in the tube “booger side down.” 

That’s the name of a song Brewer teachers Tom Burby and Brian Estes co-wrote and performed that advises kids and staff on how to participate in pooled testing. The Maine Department of Education posted a video of the song to its website to share with educators statewide.

The pooled testing program kicked off this week in Brewer, with about 500 students and staff at the 900-student school participating in the regular testing that aims to detect asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 and reduce the need for disruptive quarantines. With pooled testing, a lab tests samples from up to 25 students — a “pool” — at once. Students in a pool are then tested individually if the test of their pool comes back positive. 

“Open it up, sanitize your hands, don’t touch the end, stick it in your nose, four times around, put it in a tube, booger side down,” the two teachers sing.

Burby is an English teacher and Estes is an art teacher.

The testing began the same week that Brewer Community School reported more COVID cases than any Maine school in the past 30 days. Superintendent Gregg Palmer attributed the high number to the school’s status as the largest K-8 school in the state, high case rates in Penobscot County, and the fact that children under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated. 

“You can see why we might have what looks like a large raw number of cases,” Palmer said. “I do not believe we would be so high on the list if the metric was about percent of cases in the school.”

Brewer Community School students also had just returned to in-person classes on Monday after more than a week of remote learning due to the high number of COVID cases. Palmer said most of the COVID cases recorded in the past 30 days had been detected before the temporary switch to remote learning.

The first round of pooled testing took place Tuesday at both Brewer Community School and Brewer High School, where another 200 so far are participating in testing. The high school serves 700 students. 

Only a few pools at Brewer Community School had positive tests in the first round, Palmer said. There were no positive pools at the high school.

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Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to