The SHIELD test is a noninvasive PCR test designed to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 in saliva. This test was successfully deployed in 2020 by the University of Illinois to enable students to remain on campus. LTHS piloted it during the summer with athletic camps and has deployed the program for the fall semester for all students and staff members participating in the program.
Students have the flexibility to test at the time and location that best suits their schedules. We encourage parents and guardians to review their students’ schedules to identify the best time for them to consistently test. It is essential for these participants to test weekly for the program to be effective in identifying individuals who may have COVID-19 and are asymptomatic and for tracking COVID conditions on campus.
Students may test during passing periods, at the beginning of their lunch period before eating, during homeroom study hall, or after school. Students have the flexibility to test at the time and location that best suits their schedule.
Getting test results: Parents/Guardians will receive an email communication with instructions for creating an account on the SHIELD portal. Parents/Guardians can access their student’s patient portal to see when their child was tested and to see the results. Parents/Guardians will receive all results--positive, negative, or inconclusive. The LTHS nurse and county health officials will only be notified by Visit Healthcare, the test administrator, if the student tests positive.
How to opt in? For families who did not register for SHIELD testing but wish to have their child participate, a second enrollment will be announced in the coming weeks.
The saliva test has a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 99%, with very few false positives. High specificity combined with frequent testing makes the SHIELD saliva-based test extremely accurate.
To be most effective as a measure of the COVID infection among the student populations, all students participating should be tested regularly. Students and staff enrolled in the program will test weekly. Multiple locations and times offer students the flexibility to test when and where it suits their schedules.
Large numbers of students can be tested in a matter of minutes. Details about the procedure and time students will be tested will be posted soon.
The test can detect the virus 2-3 days after COVID- 19 exposure. Rapid or other PCR tests usually cannot detect the virus until approximately 5 days after exposure.
Current notification time is 24-48 hours.
In addition to the parent receiving their child’s test results, the LTHS nurses and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will also receive positive test results, consistent with IDPH guidance and the Illinois Control of Communicable Disease Code. All results are confidential and protected under HIPAA and FERPA.
If a vaccinated student becomes symptomatic, SHIELD could rule out the possibility of COVID-19 and enable the student to avoid quarantine.
Testing can help unvaccinated students minimize quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19 or symptomatic. A “test to stay” protocol will be implemented this year that will enable students who have been exposed but have no symptoms to stay in school as long as they continue to test negative. Specific quarantine guidelines will be published pending final state health guidance.
According to the University of Illinois website, the SHIELD test targets specific COVID-19 markers and is not able to test for other communicable diseases, substances, or DNA.
Students under the age of 18 will not be tested unless a parental consent form is on file. No opt-out election is necessary. Please note that students who are not participating in COVID testing would be subject to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus or if they become symptomatic.
For families who did not opt in prior to the start of school, a second opportunity to enroll in the program will be offered in the future. For families who opted in but no longer wish to participate, there is no requirement to test once a student is enrolled in the program. A student may simply not participate. No opt out is necessary.
The SHIELD Program is administered at no cost to families or LTHS.