Dear District 97 Staff and Families,
As we shared earlier this week, District 97 has been preparing to deploy the SHIELD Illinois testing program in our schools. Due to the Governor’s vaccine mandate, SHIELD and their 3rd party logistical/collections partners have been overwhelmed with requests to participate in testing. District 97 initiated the SHIELD process well in advance of the Governor’s mandate, which allowed us to stay ahead of the late rush. We are pleased to share that D97 will move forward with large-scale deployment of testing K-8 students starting Tuesday, Sept. 7. District 97 looks forward to utilizing SHIELD testing as an additional mitigation strategy to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
That said, we are now starting to feel the effects of the increased demand for SHIELD across the state. In addition to the initial delay in testing start date, we anticipate there may be a slight delay in processing and reporting testing results within 24-hours. While right now the SHIELD labs are reporting no issues with processing and reporting results within that time frame, with the increase in the number of samples sent to the labs it is unknown if SHIELD will be able to maintain that 24-hour window. We will be sure to update you if the expected reporting and processing turnaround time increases.
Another impact of the increased demand for SHIELD relates to our Pre-K program. As we worked to schedule testing with our 3rd party collections team, several obstacles related to testing our Pre-K students emerged. As a result, SHIELD and our collections team will need additional time to prepare for Pre-K testing, and at this time, we will not be collecting samples from Pre-K students. Please know that we are hopeful this is only a temporary measure. We will continue to work with the collections team on a way to accommodate this program and are confident that we will come to a solution.
As a reminder, each school’s testing schedule will be communicated by building principals. Additional information about SHIELD testing is included below.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to work to provide a safe learning environment for District 97 students and staff.
Dr. Griff Powell and Dr. Patricia Wernet