Return to School 2021-2022 » COVID Testing Program

COVID Testing Program

Because COVID-19 remains a threat to public health and a large portion of our student population is too young to be vaccinated for COVID-19, District 153 must remain vigilant about protecting our staff and students. In addition to the current mitigation efforts (masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, quarantine/isolation, and enhanced cleaning protocols), we are establishing another layer of protection with a COVID-19 testing program. by utilizing SHIELD Illinois saliva test and BInaxNOW rapid antigen tests.
 
Used by the University of Illinois since the fall of 2020, the SHIELD COVID-19 saliva PCR test regimen has been highly effective at identifying and isolating asymptomatic individuals, thus lowering the number of students and staff who test positive or who must quarantine due to having close contact with someone who tested positive. Illinois Department of Public Health is offering SHIELD Illinois saliva tests and BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests free of charge to K-12 school districts like ours.
 

How it works

 
SHIELD Illinois saliva test has very high sensitivity and specificity, meaning there are very few false negatives and false positives, and is much less invasive than a nasal swab. Students will be taught how to drool several times into a funnel attached to a tube, screw on a cap to complete the test and then place the sample in a collection box. The video below illustrates the process. You will also find a fact sheet below with more information.
 
BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests will be used to test individuals who present to the health office with COVID-19 symptoms.

OVERVIEW

Homewood School District 153 seeks to maintain a safe environment for employees, students and their families during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The District will be testing for COVID-19 as an additional mitigation strategy beginning the 2021-2022 school year. The goal will be to screen all individuals weekly utilizing the SHIELD Illinois saliva test, and diagnostically test anyone experiencing COVID symptom/s with the BinaxNOW rapid antigen swab. See definitions below for more information on these two tests.
 

BENEFITS OF A TESTING PROGRAM

Having a testing program adds another layer of protection against COVID-19 infection in our community. It allows the District to rapidly identify individuals who are positive for COVID-19 and expedite isolation and quarantine requirements. This in-turn informs infection prevention and control measures, thus preventing transmission. In addition, schools participating in the SHIELD screening program qualify for revised quarantine provisions such as defining close contact as individuals within 3 feet of a positive/symptomatic person, rather than 6 feet.
 

SHIELD Illinois

SHIELD Illinois is a RT-PCR saliva test that Homewood school District 153 will be utilizing to screen all individuals in an effort to catch asymptomatic positives before unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to others. We will be working with the SHIELD team, along with a 3rd party agency, to assist us in administering and processing these tests.
 

BinaxNOW

BinaxNOW is a rapid antigen test that detects the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. The specimen is collected via nasal swab and results are available in about 15 minutes. The goal of this test is to quickly identify symptomatic positives.
 

TESTING PRIORITY

According to IDPH, testing in school should be prioritized as follows:
1. Persons with symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.
2. Unvaccinated persons who are determined to be close contacts to someone with active COVID-19 infection, and certain vaccinated persons who live or work in high density/congregate settings.
3. All staff and students/participants with possible exposure in the context of outbreak settings, with special considerations for vaccinated persons depending on the living or work setting.
4. Screening of unvaccinated staff and/or students/participants, when the risk of transmission is high to moderate, as a strategy to identify asymptomatic positives.
 
At District 153, any individual who presents with symptoms of COVID-19 will be offered a test onsite using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test. If a student is kept home from school due to possible symptoms, they may contact the school nurse and arrange a drive through BinaxNOW test at the school.
 
All individuals will have the opportunity to participate in the COVID screening program on a weekly basis using SHIELD. Those fully vaccinated, or who have a history of lab-confirmed infection in the last 90 days can opt-out for these reasons.
 

RESULTS & ISOLATION/QUARNTINE RECOMMENDATIONS

Only those who test positive or have been identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive will be contacted via phone or email following the SHIELD screening test. Families and staff will be instructed on isolation & quarantine recommendations based on IDPH and CDC guidance.
 

CONSENT

Families and staff will have the opportunity to opt out of the SHIELD testing program at 153. Given the higher risk of transmission, all athletes and staff sponsors will be required to participate in the screening program.
 
If symptoms develop during the school day, the school nurse will contact parents/guardians for consent for a BinaxNOW rapid antigen nasal swab.
 
NOTE: Those not participating in the screening program are not eligible for modified close contact definition: within 3 feet or less for a cumulative time of 15minutes in a 24 hour period, as long as other mitigation strategies are strictly adhered to.
 
 

TRAINING

All healthcare staff in the district will be trained to collect samples for BinaxNOW, process the test, and interpret results utilizing the following training materials:
https://www.globalpointofcare.abbott/en/support/product-installation-training/navica-brand/navica-binaxnow-ag-training.html
 

DISPOSAL

All components of the BinaxNOW test kit, as well as gloves used by persons administering the test and any grossly contaminated PPE, will be discarded as infectious waste. Any waste produced during the SHIELD screening testing will be removed and disposed of by the 3rd party testing agency.
 

REPORTING TO IDPH

Positive results from the SHIELD screening program will be reported to IDPH by the assigned 3rd party responsible for sample collection within our schools. The nurse administering the BinaxNOW or other designated person will report the results to IDPH through the RedCap reporting system. This is consistent with IDPH guidance and the Illinois Control of Communicable Disease Code.
 

DEFINITIONS

Screening test – intended to identify infected persons who are asymptomatic and without known or suspected exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Screening tests are performed to identify persons who may be contagious so that measures can be taken to prevent further transmission.
 
Diagnostic test – intended to identify current infections at the individual level when a person has signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or when a person is asymptomatic but has recent known or suspected exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.