COVID-19 Surveillance Screenings

District 204 is partnering with SafeGuard Surveillance, LLC to offer optional weekly COVID-19 screenings for all staff members and students in middle and high school and the STEPS program who attend in-person instruction. The purpose of the program is to reduce transmission by identifying potential cases of COVID-19 in school populations early, especially in asymptomatic individuals. The screening will be done through a self-administered saliva test that detects a high viral load of the COVID-19 virus.

Individuals with a positive result will be notified of the next steps and referred to a certified testing facility for a PCR COVID-19 test. While the test is extremely accurate, with 99.9% of clinical findings resulting in a positive COVID-19 test, a PRC COVID-19 test is needed to confirm results.

By implementing this procedure we hope to have fewer disruptions to in-person learning.

COVID-19 Surveillance Screening FAQ

What is COVID-19 screening?

The COVID-19 screening is a non-diagnostic test used to detect if an individual has high viral loads of the COVID-19 virus even if they are not experiencing any symptoms. The screening does not make a diagnosis and individuals will need to schedule a diagnostic PCR test with their doctor or state testing facility to determine if they are indeed infected with the virus.

What are the benefits of COVID-19 Screening?

Surveillance testing is a non-diagnostic test that detects high viral loads of COVID-19 in an individual. The benefits of surveillance testing include:

  • Allows districts to identify asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers who may pass a daily self-certification from attending school and risking the spread of the virus within our buildings.
  • Allows districts to monitor the surveillance positivity rates within schools to inform decisions about in-person instruction and necessary mitigation strategies.

Ultimately, these measures will allow us to provide more in-person instruction.

What is the risk of a false negative screening result?

There is no test that has no risk of false negatives. This screening method is extremely effective at identifying individuals with the high viral loads that are thought to drive the spread of COVID-19. The sensitivity limit of the test does not pick up all cases from individuals with very low viral loads, but increasing scientific evidence suggests that people with these very low viral loads do not spread the virus to others.

How has the screening program been validated?

The results of this test have been validated in studies published by the University of Wisconsin, the University of Colorado, and many international institutions. The experience in LaGrange District 102 has also validated these results, as all individuals identified with a "finding of potential clinical significance" have subsequently tested positive in a diagnostic PCR test.

Who is eligible to participate in the screening?

All District 204 staff members are eligible to participate in the screening program. All students in grades 6-12 and students in the STEPS program who are participating in in-person instruction are eligible to participate. At this time students who are participating in 100% remote learning are not eligible to participate.

Why are early childhood and elementary students not included in the screening program?

To date, the research suggests that kids under 12 are less likely to contract COVID-19. Additionally, the structure of the school day for elementary school students provides additional mitigation strategies due to the static nature of their classroom structures. These classroom structures allow us to reduce or eliminate the mixing of groups which is not possible at the secondary level.

Is the screening mandatory?

No, the screening program is voluntary, but participation is highly encouraged. The success of this mitigation strategy is based on high levels of staff and student participation.

Is there a cost to the student or staff member for the screening test?

No, there is no individual cost for the screening. The district will be funding all costs associated with the testing.

What is involved in the screening?

Students/staff will receive kits including small tubes, plastic baggies, unique bar code stickers for the tubes, and instructions for collecting saliva samples at home. This is a quick process that involves spitting into a tube and then putting it into a bag and sanitizing the bag before returning it to a drop-off box at school. Each student and staff member will have a label with a barcode. No names are included on the samples as a means to maintain confidentiality.

How will individuals be informed of the results?

Parents and staff will ONLY be contacted if the results of the screening are positive and additional medical evaluation is needed. Individuals will receive a text to alert them to the positive screening and they need to stay home. The health office or HR will follow up the next day during school hours with the necessary next steps. Individuals with negative screenings will not be contacted.

What happens if the screening comes back positive?

Anyone with a positive screening will be advised to isolate and immediately contact their doctor or a state testing center to schedule a PCR test (cannot be a rapid test) to confirm the results. Per the DCHD guidelines, Rapid COVID tests cannot be accepted. Any student or staff member that receives a positive screening will be considered under evaluation for COVID-19, and per IDPH guidelines must remain off campus until the return to school protocols are met. All individuals living within the same household will also be required to quarantine until a negative PCR test is received and/or the required quarantine timelines are met.

How is privacy maintained throughout the entire process?

Samples are provided with a bar code label that does not include a name. If there is a presumptive positive result, the lab will inform district staff, who will look up the bar code and contact the family or staff member. The lab is not provided with any names of students or staff. The lab immediately destroys samples and does not keep any records related to students or staff. Any documentation related to testing will be maintained within our District with the same level of security and confidentiality as all medical information.

Does a student have to participate in the screening to participate in the hybrid model?

No, the screening program is voluntary, but participation is highly encouraged. The success of this mitigation strategy is based on high levels of staff and student participation.

Are students who are participating in 100% remote learning able to take part in the screening program?

No, at this time only students who have chosen the hybrid learning model are eligible for the screening program. Due to cost and lab processing constraints, only students who will participate in on-campus learning or extracurricular programs may participate.

How do I sign up for the program?

Parents and staff will need to complete a waiver in order to participate in the program. A waiver must be completed for every student who participates in the program. Families with multiple 6-12 students will need to complete a waiver for each student.

When do I have to collect and drop off the saliva sample?

Schedules will be developed for when students and staff will need to provide a sample.
Buildings will determine and communicate drop off locations.

Who screens the samples?

The District has partnered with SafeGuard Screening, LLC to complete the screening services.

Does the COVID-19 screening program replace all other mitigation strategies?

The screening is an additional mitigation strategy, and does not take the place of other health and safety measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and enhanced cleaning. These effective measures already make the risk of in-school transmission very low. Instead, it is a tool that can help ensure asymptomatic individuals do not come to our campuses and potentially transmit the virus to others.

If I have already had COVID, can I still participate in the screening?

Yes, you are highly encouraged to continue to participate in the screening. More evidence is still needed to determine how long an individual is immune from the virus. The screening focuses on identifying high viral loads, where an individual is most likely to spread the virus to others.

How long will the screening program be in place for students and staff?

Our current plan is to continue this screening program through spring break. At that time, we will reevaluate the need to extend the program.

If I am referred for a diagnostic test due to screening results can I still participate in school/work?

If a student/staff member is referred for additional diagnostic testing, they may participate in school/work remotely. Students/staff would be considered present and would not be marked absent or required to take a sick day.

If I have been vaccinated, should I participate in the screening program?

Yes, you are highly encouraged to participate in the screening. While the vaccine will likely protect you from becoming sick with COVID, more research is needed to determine if a vaccinated person would still be able to spread the disease to others.