Suburban school districts to use COVID-19 saliva screenings as students return to classrooms

COVID saliva test

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Suburban school districts that are returning to some in-person education are planning to regularly screen students for COVID-19 with saliva test.

During a meeting of the Naperville Unit District 203 School Board, Superintendent Dan Bridges said students and staff would voluntarily be tested weekly.

"The goal of the program is early identification of potential COVID cases so we can reduce transmission of the virus in quarantine due to close contacts, especially from asymptomatic individuals," he said.

District officials hope at least 70 percent of eligible students and employees will opt in to "help us be ahead of any sort of spread within our schools as we bring more people into our buildings. The more participation we have in this, the better," Bridges said.

The school board unanimously authorized a maximum $2 million agreement with Safeguard Surveillance to provide saliva screening testing kits for up to 12 weeks. It is estimated each test will cost $11.

Bridges said the tests are very accurate: 99.9 percent. Results come in 24 hours and those testing positive will need more testing.

Hybrid learning is on tract to start the week of Jan. 25.

Other suburban school districts including Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 and Glenbard Township High School District 87 are also using the saliva test.