NNHS implements SHIELD Testing

NNHS implements SHIELD Testing

Photo by Faye Tyschper

Faye Tyschper, Staff Writer

At the end of September, Naperville North began the use of SHIELD Testing in response to a districtwide effort to safeguard in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year, as stated on the district’s website.

At the beginning of the school year, an email was sent to parents and guardians of students, informing them about the implementation of SHIELD Testing, where they could then decide to either opt out of the program. With the addition of this testing, NNHS Assistant Principal of Operations, Jay Wachtel, is optimistic that it will provide students and their families with peace of mind amid the pandemic.

“There’s something there about how people think and their level of comfort that is a big deal,” Wachtel said.

SHIELD Testing is a voluntary, diagnostic (RT-PCR) COVID-19 test developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The district presumes parental consent for students to be tested, unless parents fill out an opt-out form. Naperville North students who choose to participate have the opportunity to test weekly during their lunch hour, PE class period, and before or after school in the Contest Gym athletics hallway. On Tuesdays, freshmen and sophomores can test, while juniors and seniors test on Thursdays. Students are advised not to eat within one hour of testing in order to obtain the most accurate results possible.

Over 1,200 K-12 schools have implemented the use of the program since its development, according to the University of Illinois System. 

From the week of Oct. 10 through Oct. 16, Naperville North had less than five positive cases, according to the district’s COVID-19 student tracker. SHIELD testing is a key part of the school’s efforts to identify those cases. 

“We anticipate testing most unvaccinated students at least weekly,” the consent notice on the District 203 website said.

For some students, like junior Alina Gasior, keeping tabs on how COVID-19 is impacting the student body decreases stress about potential quarantines.

“Because of added pressures like SAT and ACT testing and honors and AP courses during junior year, staying in-person is super important to me. Getting questions answered [in-person] is so much easier, and interacting with friends and teachers on a daily basis is something I’ve missed,” Gasior said.

SHIELD testing allows schools like Naperville North to detect asymptomatic cases among students and staff, which are often difficult to identify without proper testing procedures. NNHS freshman Cathy Yang, who chose to participate in SHIELD Testing, says that this is a key factor when it comes to keeping the school safe.

“I feel detecting [asymptomatic] cases can help our school remain prepared to take further measures and react accordingly,” Yang said. 

Additionally, NNHS freshman Jessie Klepper says that she hasn’t SHIELD tested yet, but plans to in the future.

 

“[SHIELD testing] is an important safety measure to make sure that the numbers at our school and in the community are low, and are continuing to stay that way,” Klepper said.

The implementation of SHIELD Testing as an optional measure also aims to appease both sides of the heated debate surrounding COVID-19 precautions and vaccines, especially in schools.

“It makes me feel good that it’s optional. It helps to potentially appease both sides of an issue that you can’t solve with just one solution,” Wachtel said.

 

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