FAQ - SHIELD Testing
SHIELD is a free, non-invasive, saliva-based test created by the University of Illinois. More information is available at https://www.uillinois.edu/shield.
All District 97 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade will be tested during the 2021-22 school year.
This notice provides information about the SHIELD testing program to allow an informed consent for students to participate in weekly testing. To opt out of the testing program, families must complete this form. By not opting-out, consent for students to be tested for COVID-19 infection is presumed.
We are arranging for SHIELD to test the students at least once per week. A schedule will be shared with families by the school principal.
Testing will take place at District 97 schools (exact locations are still to be determined). Classes will have assigned times on their testing day. All testing will take place during the school day, but begin no sooner than one hour after school begins to ensure individuals do not eat or drink prior to the test.
According to SHIELD Illinois, eating or drinking within one hour prior to testing may provide an invalid sample or inconclusive result.
If the test is negative, you will not receive results. In other words, no news is good news. If the test is positive, SHIELD will contact you; in addition, a school nurse or administrator will contact you to discuss next steps.
If your child’s test results are positive, please contact your child’s doctor immediately to review the test results and discuss next steps. Your child may not return to school until they have received written clearance from the school nurse.
If your child’s test results are negative, this means that the COVID-19 virus was not detected in your child’s saliva (spit).
Tests sometimes produce incorrect negative results called “false negatives” in people who have COVID-19. If your child tests negative but has symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have concerns about your child’s exposure to COVID-19, you should call your child’s doctor.
In addition to you receiving your child’s test results, District 97 and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will also receive your child’s test results, consistent with IDPH guidance and the Illinois Control of Communicable Disease Code.
Following the guidance of the Oak Park Department of Public Health, District 97 will not accept outside/confirmatory PCR tests following a positive SHIELD test. This is based on the fact that the SHIELD Illinois saliva test is a laboratory-based nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), which is considered the most sensitive test for detecting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
According to SHIELD, the saliva testing has a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 99.8% to 99.9%, yielding very few false positives. Additionally, all positive samples are retested using the originally-collected sample to further reduce the chance of false positives. High specificity combined with frequent testing makes the SHIELD saliva-based test extremely accurate.
Furthermore, the Illinois Department of Public Health states the SHIELD Illinois saliva test is highly-reliable and does not require an additional confirmatory test when used as a primary diagnostic test.
The State of Illinois has made testing available free of charge to all schools through SHIELD Illinois. There is no cost to District 97 families.
No other action is required if you consent for your child to be tested for COVID-19 infection pursuant to the notice shared with District 97 families. If you do NOT consent for your child to be tested for COVID-19 infection, complete, sign, and return the district's OPT-OUT form.
Yes, families can opt their students into or out of testing at any time. To opt out of weekly PCR testing, please complete the SHIELD Opt-Out Form. To opt back into testing, please contact the school directly.
Individual data will not be published. Positive cases will be reflected in the district's COVID-19 Metrics Dashboard.
SHIELD Illinois uses a third-party collections and logistics team (Visit Healthcare) to collect the samples and disseminate the results. All parties are subject to confidentiality agreements. Identifiable information is kept to a minimum through the use of QR codes and barcodes. Individual results will be reported directly to parents and the district. Results will be available to school principals and nurses in order to connect with families whose students had a positive test result.
The SHIELD program will not take the place of our schools’ health and safety measures, which include wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, cleaning protocols and regular washing of hands—mitigations that already make the risk of in-school transmission low. PCR testing is an additional tool that can help ensure that asymptomatic individuals do not come to our buildings and potentially transmit COVID-19 to others.
As of Sept. 13, 2021, the opt-out rate for all District 97 students is 4.3%.
Because the state has mandated full in-person learning with limited criteria for remote instruction, District 97 no longer has two options for school (in-person or remote). Without an alternative for those who opt out of testing, the district cannot mandate testing for all students.