University of Illinois Offers SHIELD COVID Testing for All K-12 Schools

Regina Takes Advantage of the SHIELD COVID Testing Program for Non-vaccinated Students

The Regina community came back to in class school in August. Everyone is in the building wearing masks and following strict COVID protocols. Also, an astounding 84% of Regina students are vaccinated.

“For the percent that is not vaccinated, they will be going through weekly testing,” said Nurse Marti Barthel.

For about a year now, Regina has taken all of the safety measures it can to do to keep students and staff safe. We all want to stay in school and not have to end up in an online learning environment. Regina has put in measures such as wearing masks at all times, desks that are three feet apart, windows open in each classroom according to weather, a cleaning employee wiping down all areas of the school throughout the day, wipes available for everyone to use on desks and other appliances, and extra masks in every classroom.

Regina has definitely taken every precaution to keep the school safe. An extra precaution has been instituted this year with the use of  SHIELD saliva testing. The school has seven staff members who underwent hours of training to be certified as SHIELD testers. This SHIELD testing program comes from The University of Illinois. It was highly successful and kept students safe at the U of I campus all last year. This is a program that is free to all schools through government funding.

The goal of the SHIELD program is to decrease COVID cases by offering this simple test that produces results within 24 hrs. At UIUC, the test was implemented on a large scale, which helped with tracing and isolation. According to the SHIELD website, “over 4.5 million tests were performed at our universities since August, SHIELD has kept the positivity rate in Champaign county below 1% since September 2020.”

In November 2021, the testing at Regina began. The tests will be done following the Wednesday school morning meetings. Individuals who are not vaccinated and wish to be tested will go to a specific classroom where stations are set up. Each individual will be given a testing tube that they are to “drop” saliva into. By “drop,” it is very important that the saliva is dropped and not spat into the tube, so bubbles don’t overwhelm the tube.

An hour before testing, individuals are not to put anything into their mouths. This may affect the testing results and result in the person redoing the test. One question that many may have is whether the individuals testing can be trusted to put anything in their mouths an hour before testing?

Verna Allworth, Regina’s Assistant Principal said, “As with most medical tests, there are protocols that people are asked to follow so the test itself is accurate. If a student eats or drinks before testing, the saliva sample may contain food particles or other contaminants, and the student would have to wait a while and produce another sample.”

Regina allows students and other staff members to opt-out of weekly testing.  Some may wonder that if students are allowed to opt out what is the purpose of conducting the testing.

According to Mrs. Allworth, “As a school, we have no authority to conduct a health screening test for an infectious disease on a minor student without the consent of a parent or guardian. Most students at Regina are minors, who are not able to make medical and health decisions on their own. A parent/guardian may opt their student out of testing and are not obligated to tell us why. It’s a service we are providing as a school to unvaccinated individuals. Keep in mind that testing is an additional mitigation measure on the top of all of the other measures we have had success in place for over a year now to prevent the spread of COVID at our school.”

Regina is going above and beyond to put the safety of students and staff at the top of their list. Regina is dedicated to keeping everyone at school for now and the future.