The Illinois Department of Public Health says it is offering no-cost and low-cost COVID-19 testing supplies to elementary schools across the state, continuing its push to allow in-person education to take place later this year.
According to an IDPH press release, schools will be given access to the saliva-based covidSHIELD test, developed by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The test is designed to quickly detect coronavirus, including its variants, even among people who are not showing symptoms.
“As we move closer to returning to how we lived pre-pandemic, it is critically important that we identify cases of COVID-19 as quickly as possible to help prevent outbreaks, which could ultimately lead to new surges,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “Offering testing in schools, along with vaccination and masking, can help protect students, staff and teachers when in-person learning resumes.”
Schools will receive test results within 24 hours of specimens reaching a lab, according to the release. The saliva-based tests are also being offered to middle schools and high schools across the state.
Federal funding from the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan will be used to help finance the testing system, according to officials. Schools in predominantly low-income areas that have experienced high rates of COVID infections will be given the tests for free, while other schools will receive a discounted rate of $10 per test, according to the release.