Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205’s COVID-19 weekly saliva surveillance screening program is among several key mitigation factors that are helping keep our schools open and even more safe, including during periods of increased community transmission. Since we began our program in March, we have identified 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among our students in grades 6-12, who are participating in the saliva screening program. These individuals were referred to their doctor or a state testing site to confirm their positive screenings.
Proactively, this mitigation tool uses the internationally recognized RT-Lamp process adapted by SafeGuard Surveillance, our screening partner, which has cost-effectively and accurately identified hundreds of COVID-19 cases for numerous schools in addition to District 205.
During Spring Break, Safeguard Surveillance and New Trier High School were the subjects of a New York Times article about Safeguard’s saliva screening program. We join our neighbors at New Trier in expressing our disappointment in the story as well as in questioning the accuracy of the reporting and the omission of information, including how the program has been authorized to operate under guidance from the federal Department of Health and Human Services and the fact that it has successfully identified hundreds of cases of COVID-19.
We believe that a follow-up article from our local Chicago Tribune published on April 2, 2021, more comprehensively reflects the Safeguard Surveillance screening process and the intentions of schools utilizing this tool. To read the story at length, please click here.
We continue to assert that Safeguard’s saliva screening program has been a very beneficial tool for many school districts, including District 205, that are working tirelessly to provide the in-person learning and extracurricular opportunities that so many of our students need and our families have demanded. As school leaders, we have been transparent that our saliva screening program is non-diagnostic and must be confirmed by further testing from a physician or COVID-19 testing center. The District also has provided parents with a redress process should there be a medical or religious objection to their child’s participation in the saliva screening program.
D205’s screening program remains one mitigation factor among the many used to determine the safety of offering in-person instruction. Students and staff also are submitting to daily health certification as well as complying with state health mandates such as masking, quarantining, and social distancing guidelines. Our continued dedication to all these measures as well as your support at home has helped keep the risk of in-school transmission low.
We are committed to doing all we can to safely maintain in-person opportunities for our students, and above all, we are grateful for our school community's strong dedication to providing a safe and healthy learning environment for anyone who visits our campuses or uses our facilities.
Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205