River Forest’s elementary school District 90 announced last week that it will expand its COVID-19 antigen testing program to include household members of D90 students, faculty and staff.
In January, D90 began providing testing for symptomatic students, faculty and staff and for those who had been exposed to people positive for COVID-19, and now immediate household members can be tested too.
The district has been using Abbott BinaxNOW antigen tests, which are administered on-site at Roosevelt Middle School. Symptomatic or exposed individuals can have tests administered during scheduled appointments three times a week, and the tests are administered by BinaxNOW trained and licensed medical professionals, including school nurses. Results are available within 15 to 30 minutes.
All test results are reported to the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) and are subject to contact tracing.
According to the release from the district, antigen tests, such as those being run in D90, are not as accurate as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, though results are more quickly obtained. Therefore, it is possible that someone who tests negative can, in fact, actually be positive for COVID-19. Anyone with symptoms will be instructed to consult a doctor, regardless of whether the test result is positive or negative.
The tests cost the district nothing; according to the press release, they are being obtained from the CCDPH through the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Testing must first be approved by a D90 school nurse, infection control officer or administrator. Students must have a signed authorization for testing from a parent or guardian and a signed authorization allowing results to be shared with the child’s physician and with the school district. Adults will need to sign consent forms as well.
The test center uses a drive-up model, though walk-up testing can be made available if necessary. Testing is done curbside, keeping potentially infected individuals from entering the school building, and those being tested are asked to leave the area immediately after testing. They will be contacted with results.
Extra cleaning and disinfecting protocols are being followed, and accommodations have been made for the disposal of medical waste.
The goal, said the district in a release on Feb. 3, is “to abate the spread of the coronavirus and prevent potentially infected individuals from entering the school building.”
“The district is enthusiastic about the role it will play in assisting students, families, and staff members in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission within the D90 community, and by extension, the entire community,” reads the release.
Learn more on the district’s website at district90.org.