Dear District 57 Families,
I am writing to provide more details of our plan for launching optional weekly COVID-19 screening for students and staff members beginning next week. As previously shared, District 57 will be partnering with the University of Illinois to conduct this testing in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and sustain our in-person learning model this school year. We will be using a program provided by SHIELD Illinois, which specializes in helping schools use the University of Illinois’ COVID test as part of an early screening protocol. SHIELD is a non-invasive test that will allow us to identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic staff and students. More than 1,200 Illinois schools have signed up for SHIELD Illinois, representing more than 680,000 students and more than 90,000 staff, according to the University of Illinois
SHIELD testing will begin across the District starting on Tuesday, October 12 (due to the day off of school on Monday), for all students and staff who have not opted out of the program. Due to the number of students participating in SHIELD testing, District 57 has 4 days designated for testing (Monday-Thursday) with some schools having multiple days.
SHIELD Testing Days
Tuesdays & Wednesdays
Mondays (Testing will occur on Fridays if buildings are closed on a Monday of that week)
Mondays - 6th Grade (Testing will occur on Thursdays if buildings are closed on a Monday of that week)
Tuesdays - 7th Grade
Wednesdays - 8th Grade
Each building principal has developed a school schedule with the goal of causing minimal disruption to the learning environment while also meeting the requirements of SHIELD testing. Watch your email and school newsletter for specific scheduling information from your child's principal. This information will be sent later this week. Please note that as we become more familiar with the process, the schedule may change.
Elementary students will be tested in the hallway outside of their classroom while spaced 6 feet apart, while Lincoln students will be tested during P.E., during passing periods or after school (bus riders will be prioritized for testing during the school day). The entire process is extremely quick and efficient -- each test will take approximately 2-5 minutes based on the ability of a student to produce enough saliva.
SHIELD results are viewable by District 57 school nurses, and as with all medical information, test results are highly confidential and treated as all other student records within our district. Families will be notified by the school nurse if their student’s test results are positive and will then be guided through the next steps, following the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidance. If you do not receive communication regarding the status of your child’s test, your child has tested negative. It is important to note that the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) informs us that the SHIELD test has greater than 98% sensitivity and specificity. A high rate of specificity means a test has very few false positives. (Additional information regarding false positives is available in the FAQ.)
Our priority is to implement SHIELD as a screening program. Once the SHIELD screening program is running smoothly, the District will begin to implement the test-to-stay option for students exposed to COVID-19 during the school day. However, students exposed during lunch, recess, any other non-classroom time, or in a classroom setting where universal masking was not correctly and consistently adhered to are not eligible for the test-to-stay option.
Should you decide that you do not want your child to participate in SHIELD testing and have not already opted out, please contact your child’s principal. Please note that if you have opted out no action is needed on your part.
If you previously opted out of SHIELD testing and you now want your child to participate, please contact your child’s principal.
Dr. Mary Gorr
Superintendent of Schools
Mount Prospect District 57