Illinois investing $235 Million to expand COVID testing in middle and high schools


(WSIL) — In an effort to ensure in-person learning can fully resume as quickly and safely as possible, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Wednesday announced a $235 million investment to expand access to covidSHIELD testing to middle and high schools across the state at low or no cost. 

The covidSHIELD test, which was developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), is a saliva-based test that quickly detects the virus that causes COVID-19, including in people who aren’t exhibiting symptoms.

“For in-person learning to occur, we need to help make schools as safe as possible for students, teachers, and staff,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “To help prevent an outbreak, it is important to identify cases of COVID-19 as quickly as possible.  Having testing readily available in schools can make it easier for more students to be tested and cases identified quicker.  Testing, along with vaccination and masking, will help all of Illinois get back to in-person learning.”

Instead of a nasal swab, the test uses saliva, which takes minutes to collect and results are available within 12-24 hours after the sample reaches the lab.  The specimens will be collected at each participating school and parental consent is required.

This $235 million IDPH investment expands on testing currently being offered at Illinois public universities and community colleges. 

For schools opting to use covidSHIELD testing will be available for free at middle and high schools in districts that are predominately low-income and have experienced high rates of COVID-19 infection. Other schools will receive a discounted fee of $10 per test. 

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