Federally-funded effort aims to control virus spread in schools
Information provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (June 15, 2022) – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently announced a renewed agreement with SHIELD Illinois that offers every public school outside of Chicago the opportunity to use the University of Illinois System’s saliva-based COVID-19 testing platform at no cost for the 2022-23 school year.
SHIELD Illinois provides on-demand saliva-based PCR tests through weekly screening testing at Illinois schools, businesses and government agencies. The system has administered 6.4 million tests as of this month.
Schools interested in renewing with SHIELD or beginning a partnership may sign up by July 15 in order to guarantee testing on the first day of school.
“Schools remain an important place for testing and preventing the spread of infection,” said Interim IDPH Director Amaal Tokars, Ph.D. “We want to do everything possible to prevent sickness among our children, which is why this renewal and continued testing is critical.”
SHIELD Illinois provided testing for about 1 million students and staff in K-12 schools during the 2021-22 school year; 57 community colleges and universities; numerous businesses, such as Rivian and ADM; and government agencies, including the Illinois General Assembly and the U.S. District Court of the Northern District. It also opened 48 free community testing sites. So far in 2022, SHIELD Illinois has supplied results for its PCR tests on average 16 hours from the time of collection.
Testing in Illinois is paid for with federal funds from the CARES Act, American Rescue Plan, and Operation Expanded Testing. Federal funding for public school testing in Illinois comes from IDPH and the Midwest Coordination Center. Federal funding for testing in private schools comes from the Midwest Coordination Center.
A separate testing agreement with the Chicago Department of Public Health covers testing in non-CPS schools in Chicago, including private, parochial and charter schools. Chicago Public Schools are not included because they are receiving direct federal funding for their own testing program.
Organizations inside Illinois who are interested in using the SHIELD saliva test should visit go.uillinois.edu/startSHIELD.