Students from several school districts across the Chicago area will soon head back to a hybrid learning model and take new tests to stay in classrooms.
A growing number of school districts will offer surveillance testing, or saliva tests, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in their buildings. The tests are designed to identify potential asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 among students and staff.
This week District 200 in Wheaton will distribute test kits to families of participating 6th grade through 12th grade students. So far, the district says about 55% of families have opted in for the testing.
“We felt the added layer of mitigation helped to not only support us getting kids back into the hybrid schedule, but making sure we can keep them there when we do,” said superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler.
District 39 in Wilmette will also begin offering a saliva-based COVID-19 screening program this month.
Both school districts have partnered with Safeguard Surveillance, which is based in Brookfield.
Schuler said test results are expected to be completed within 24 hours. A school nurse will contact the family of a child who receives a finding of potential clinical significance and direct them to receive a COVID-19 test.
District 102 in LaGrange has offered the screening since August.
“We have not had to shut down our district since we started," said District 102 superintendent Dr. Kyle Schumacher. "We did have a couple classes we did have to put on quarantine for about 14 days, but other than that, we’ve been able to maintain the hybrid model we’ve had since the beginning of the year."
Schumacher added that students and staff have also continued other mitigations, including mask-wearing and hand washing.