IDPH funding $225 million for COVID-19 testing in middle & high schools

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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — UIUC’s covidSHIELD test is getting expanded to schools across the State of Illinois.

A press release from the Illinois Department of Public Health says it’s investing $225 million towards expanding access to the coronavirus testing program to middle and high schools at low or no cost.

State health officials say it’s part of their effort to make sure in-person learning can fully resume as quickly and safely as possible. The covidSHIELD testing program can quickly identify COVID-positive people so they can be quarantined, the release says. Test results are available within 12-24 hours after the sample gets to the lab.

“For in-person learning to occur, we need to help make schools as safe as possible for students, teachers, and staff, says IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “To help prevent an outbreak, it is important to identify cases of COVID-19 as quickly as possible.  Having testing readily available in schools can make it easier for more students to be tested and cases identified quicker.  Testing, along with vaccination and masking, will help all of Illinois get back to in-person learning.”

“This could include exposure in school, sports, or other extra-curricular activities,” the release says.  “The more quickly a case can be identified, the number of potential exposures to other people can be reduced, as well as the number of people needing to quarantine.”

“This is an exciting and pivotal moment for the innovative test developed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a welcome commitment from the state of Illinois that will make certain that thousands more of the state’s young people and those who educate them benefit from it,” says U. of I. System President Tim Killeen.  “I want to express my gratitude to Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health for making sure our fast, accurate, and affordable covidSHIELD system is available to offer these students and educators a safe path back to in-person instruction.”

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