Starting next Monday, Oct. 18, Oswego School District 308 will begin offering the saliva-based COVID-19 testing program, SHIELD Illinois, to students and staff free of charge.
According to the SHIELD Illinois website, the test was developed and designed by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers. “The saliva-based test is non-invasive and does not need medically trained personnel to collect samples,” the site read. “The saliva test has a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 99% with very few false positives.
“High specificity combined with frequent testing makes the SHIELD saliva-based test extremely accurate.”
Information about OSD 308′s program was announced in a letter sent to families Oct. 13. The program is “available to all students at no charge,” according to the letter, and is optional, requiring parent consent prior to participation.
Testing is conducted once per week at each district school, during normal school hours, taking “just a few minutes.” Results will be available to parents to view through a portal the next day.
Families wishing to have their children participate in SHIELD testing each week must complete a consent form and submit it to the district.
“By consenting to testing, this important tool is also available for student use if they are designated as a close contact to a positive case of COVID-19 in school,” the letter continued, calling it a “test to stay” strategy.
“The ‘test to stay’ strategy allows students in certain classroom-based exposures to continue attending school in-person, with testing four times over the course of the seven days following the exposure,” the letter read. “Using SHIELD, the testing will be conducted at school, not requiring any missed days of in-person instruction.”
Currently, OSD 308 is only offering SHIELD testing to students and staff, however “plans are underway” to expand testing options to include siblings, parents, and other household members “who wish to access testing following illness or exposure,” the letter read.
Additional information regarding expanded testing will be shared soon, and information on accessing the parent portal will be sent out later this week. Information on testing dates and times will be shared with parents at each school once the information becomes available.
Additional information about SHIELD Illinois, testing and results can be found on the district website, along with the consent form. A video link is also available, to explain how samples are collected.