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.
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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.