Dear Huntley 158 Families & Staff:
District 158 has partnered with the University of Illinois (SHIELD) program to assist with our efforts to monitor and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and community. Non-invasive testing for COVID-19 will be performed on a voluntary basis at each of our buildings and is free to all students and staff at every grade level. At this time, all students are able to participate in the testing process. However, parents may decide to OPT OUT of the testing program for each of their student(s) by completing an OPT OUT form.
Please note, ALL students will participate in in-person learning this year regardless of their choice to participate in the SHIELD testing program. Instances of remote learning will only occur in situations where a period of quarantine or isolation is deemed necessary according to Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines and in collaboration with the McHenry County Department of Health.
As you make this decision for your student(s) and family, please note the following details:
- The SHIELD test is a free, non-invasive diagnostic test for the COVID-19 virus conducted by collecting a saliva (spit) deposit in under five minutes, which provides results in 24 hours.
- SHIELD testing was developed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and has a sensitivity rate of 97% and an accuracy rate of 99%
- Individuals should not eat, drink or chew gum within 60 minutes of providing a saliva sample.
- Families will be notified of any positive test results directly by the district’s third party vendor, MedCall.
- Students’ participation in this program will limit potential quarantine situations and allow students to safely remain in an in-person learning environment.
- Access an FAQ from the University of Illinois SHIELD program here.
- Informational Video: SHIELD Illinois K-12 Schools Collection Examples
- Informational Video: SHIELD Illinois: How the Saliva-Based PCR Test Works
According to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), “screening tests for SARS-CoV-2 can support in-person learning by identifying infected persons who are asymptomatic and without known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Screening tests are performed to identify persons who may be contagious so that measures can be taken to prevent further transmission.”
Testing locations and processes will differ at each of our buildings based on daily schedules, meal times, and availability of staff and space. Details about testing dates and locations, and instructions to access your SHIELD parent portal will be communicated once our rosters have been developed by Friday, August 20. We aim to begin offering testing in our buildings on Monday, August 23.
Additionally, testing can be used to keep students in school when identified as a classroom close contact through the Test-to-Stay protocol. “This allows students to avoid quarantine by testing on days one, three, five and seven after exposure as long as they continue to test negative.” (IDPH). Students and staff who continue to test negative will be permitted to stay in the classroom.
- The ability to engage in the Test-to-Stay process is determined by our local health department, as they will assess the level of risk associated with each individual situation.
- The Test-to-Stay strategy is only applicable when both the individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 and the close contact were engaged in proper and consistent mask wearing, as recommended by the CDC.
- If you have opted out of the testing program, you will have the opportunity to “opt in” for your student(s) in the event they are deemed a close contact and would like to engage in the Test-to-Stay strategy. Further information about how to “opt in” to participate in Test-to-Stay will be shared by Friday, August 20 before testing begins in our buildings.
Why is testing done weekly?
Testing at least once a week maximizes our ability to find infections early and break the transmission chain. Testing, in combination with effective contact tracing, will give us the ability to monitor asymptomatic cases and the transmission rates in our buildings. The goal of this testing program, in addition to other mitigation strategies in place in schools, is to keep students learning in the classroom.
Should vaccinated individuals opt out?
According to the SHIELD program FAQ, individuals who are fully vaccinated typically do not need to be tested. However, the CDC recommends that anyone with any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 get tested, regardless of vaccination status. Vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals should complete the same opt out process if they do not wish to participate.
How to Opt Out of SHIELD Testing
If you would like to OPT OUT of the SHIELD saliva testing program, please complete and sign this OPT OUT form (updated on August 9, 2021). An original signature from a parent or guardian is required. Please turn in your completed forms to the front office of your student(s)’ building.
- If you would like your student(s) to participate in the SHIELD saliva testing program, no further action is required.
To all parents or community members who may be interested in working to assist with COVID-19 testing, please contact Kathleen Loomis at 708-971-3656. This is a paid role overseen by MedCall, the district’s third party vendor for testing procedures.
If you have additional questions about the SHIELD testing process or your student(s)’ return to school, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will endeavor to respond to all inquiries as quickly as possible and appreciate your patience.
We look forward to welcoming all of our students back to school on August 18 and 19! Thank you for your continued support and cooperation as we work to ensure the safety of our students, staff and community.