SafeGuard FAQ

Wilmette District 39 has entered into a contract with SafeGuard Screening, LLC to provide weekly COVID-19 saliva screening to students and staff. Samples will be collected at home and returned to school for lab screening. For students to participate, parents/guardians must submit this online sign-up form. The primary goal of the screening program is to allow for more consistent in-person instruction for students by serving as a more accurate way to assess the risks of reopening and by lessening community spread. In order to achieve this goal, the program must have high levels of participation from students and staff.

 

What is the purpose of weekly COVID-19 screening?

The screening program has several goals, including:

  • Reducing school closures and quarantines and allowing for more in-person instruction.

  • Identifying potential cases of COVID-19 in the school population early, reducing transmission.

  • Driving down overall rates in our community by alerting those who may need to quarantine before they show symptoms.

  • Providing a family and personal benefit for participants of knowing their current COVID-19 status.

Studies have shown that weekly screening programs have driven down transmission rates in the areas they cover. Right now, the main way District 39 has to assess the risk of COVID-19 coming into our buildings is by looking at metrics for New Trier Township (where students live and socialize) and the larger area in which staff live. With weekly testing, Wilmette has a more accurate assessment of COVID-19 rates and risks in our schools, providing an extra layer of reassurance for providing in-person instruction in addition to the many safety measures the school already has in place in all of our schools.


Who will participate?

Students and staff participating in on-campus instruction and extracurricular activities are encouraged to participate. The sample drop-off schedule allows District 39 to analyze the weekly tests and make any needed changes (e.g., quarantine) as soon as possible. Staff will also be tested weekly.
 

Does my student have to participate?

No. The program is voluntary, but District 39 is highly encouraging all in-person students and staff to participate. 


Can my student participate if they are 100 percent remote?

At this time we are offering testing only to students and staff who are coming to school in person either for hybrid learning or the modified in-person program. 


Can the rest of our family participate in this program?

Due to cost and lab processing constraints, only students and staff who participate in our in-person learning may participate.


Do I need to pay for the screening?

The screening will be provided free of charge to students and staff. The District will cover the cost of the program, which is approximately $11 per sample. Families who wish to donate to cover the costs of some of the screenings are able to do so. 


How do I sign up?

To sign up, parents/guardians must submit this form.


I have multiple students attending District 39. Do I need to sign up separately for each one?

Yes, please fill out the form for each one of your children. We will be assigning unique bar codes to every participant, so we need to have information for each student participating.


I have children participating in the screening at New Trier. Do I need to sign up my District 39 students as well? 

Yes, we encourage all in-person students to participate in the program. The more students who participate, the more effective the program will be. 


What does the screening involve?

Students/staff will receive kits including small tubes, plastic baggies, unique bar code stickers for the tubes, and instructions for collecting saliva samples at home. This is a quick process that involves spitting into a tube and then putting it into a bag and sanitizing the bag before returning it to a drop-off box at school. Names are not included with the samples.


When do I have to collect and drop off the saliva sample?

Our samples are collected for PK-4th grade students on Fridays, and our 5-8 students drop off their samples on Mondays. Samples should be collected as close as possible to the time they will be dropped off. We will have collection boxes on the designated days at schools, and samples can also be dropped off after 4:30 p.m. the evening before the designated sample collection day at the Mikaelian Education Center (615 Locust).


Who screens the samples?

The District has selected SafeGuard Screening, LLC to provide screening services. The company uses an RT-LAMP surveillance screening process that was adapted by Dr. Ed Campbell and is being used at his local school district, LaGrange District 102 and at New Trier High School. The test is non-diagnostic and students and staff who have a presumptive positive will be asked to confirm that with a diagnostic PCR test. More technical information about the process can be found in this presentation to the Board of Education on December 7, 2020.  


Is this screening like the "rapid" tests I have heard about?

The  screening is a molecular test, not the less sensitive antigen tests often used at rapid testing facilities. SafeGuard’s screening uses RT-LAMP technology, a well-developed and well-researched RNA amplification process. While the SafeGuard screening is considered non-diagnostic because samples are collected at home and tested in a lab outside of a medical facility, this type of screening has been validated and used worldwide for its accuracy and sensitivity.

 

This chart from the CDC explains the different types of COVID-19 tests:

Types of COVID-19 tests chart


Where can I find out more about LAMP testing and its use in the detection of COVID-19?

These scientific research articles provide more information about LAMP testing:

In addition, the FDA approved an at-home test on November 17, 2020, that also uses LAMP technology. It is not exactly the same as the SafeGuard screening but does use the same RNA amplification process:

Finally, this webinar recording includes information on the SafeGuard program and a Q&A with Dr. Ed Campbell, who developed the screening test. This is from his presentation to the Board of Education of Wilmette Public Schools District 39 on December 7, 2020:

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=3787&v=MXME3gYlLFk&feature=youtu.be

How do we get results?

Samples are dropped off at the lab in the morning, and results will be available that evening. The lab informs school district personnel of any bar codes that produce a presumptive positive, and those district personnel will then look up the bar codes, inform those families/staff, and advise them to quarantine and seek a PCR test from their doctor or a state testing center. Students/staff who receive a negative test will not receive any notification.


Is there a risk of false negatives? How significant is that risk?

There is no test that has no risk of false negatives. This screening method is extremely effective at identifying individuals with the high viral loads that are thought to drive the spread of COVID-19. The sensitivity limit of the test does not pick up all cases from individuals with very low viral loads, but increasing scientific evidence suggests that people with these very low viral loads do not spread the virus to others.


What happens if I receive a positive screening?

Anyone with a positive screening will be advised to quarantine and immediately contact their doctor or a state testing center to schedule a PCR test to confirm the results. Students/staff will be excluded from coming to school during the quarantine period unless the PCR test provides a negative result.


How will you protect the privacy of participants?

Samples are provided with a bar code label that does not include a name. If there is a presumptive positive result, the lab will inform our school personnel, who will look up the bar code and contact the family or staff member. The lab is not provided with any names of students or staff. The lab also will immediately destroy samples and will not keep any records related to students or staff.


Will any of the samples provided by District 39 and the resulting analysis be used in any publications?

No. Samples are destroyed after testing, and SafeGuard Screening is not keeping any records related to our testing program.


Will screening replace other safety measures at the school?

This screening does not take the place of school's health and safety measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, and enhanced cleaning -- all measures that already make the risk of in-school transmission very low. Instead, it is an additional tool that can help ensure asymptomatic individuals do not come to our campuses and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the community by identifying individuals who may have COVID-19 before they show symptoms and potentially transmit the virus to others


How have the results of this test been validated?

The results of this test have been validated in studies published by the University of Wisconsin, University of Colorado, and many international institutions. The experience in LaGrange District 102 has also validated these results, as all individuals identified with a "finding of potential clinical significance" have subsequently tested positive in a diagnostic PCR test.


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