Our COVID-19 weekly saliva surveillance program is an important safety mitigation that helps keep our buildings open and safe. Since we began the program in January, we have identified approximately 68 cases of COVID-19 – many of the cases in people who were asymptomatic. These individuals are referred to their doctor or a state testing site to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis. This identification has helped protect the schools, as well as those individuals’ family, friends and our greater community. The program uses an internationally recognized RT-Lamp process adapted by SafeGuard Surveillance that has identified hundreds of COVID-19 cases that were later confirmed by lab testing not just at Glenbard but at numerous other schools that use this affordable and highly accurate screening method. Review our FAQ about the program at this link.
We are extremely disappointed in a recent New York Times article about the surveillance program that contained inaccuracies and omitted several important points about the program, including how the program has been authorized to operate under guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the fact that it has successfully identified hundreds of cases of COVID-19. SafeGuard Surveillance shared letters with the New York Times from government officials who oversee screening regulation, confirming the program’s lawful operation as well as the success stories, studies and numerous endorsements from the scientific community – all of which the story omitted. From the time our saliva sample analysis program began, we have been clear that the program is non-diagnostic and must be confirmed by a lab test. To suggest otherwise is false.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed that SafeGuard Surveillance is using the correct protocol with its surveillance test as a nondiagnostic test that refers people to a diagnostic test in a CLIA-certified laboratory. CLIA is the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments to the Public Health Services Act.
Our saliva surveillance program is one of many safety mitigations we use to determine the safety of offering in-person instruction. Students and staff also must self-certify that they do not have a fever or COVID-19 symptoms, and all individuals are temperature screened upon entry into the building. These precautions exclude students and staff from in-person learning for a quarantine period if they have a temperature, any symptoms of COVID-19, of if they have engaged in an activity that puts them at risk of COVID-19. The state also imposed other requirements for in-person learning, such as mask wearing, social distancing, etc. to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission at school. As a result of all of these measures – as well as others we have in place such as improved ventilation systems and enhanced cleaning – the risk of in-school transmission is very low.
We are committed to doing all we can to safely continue and increase in-person opportunities for our students, and our saliva surveillance program remains an important part of our considerations. We are grateful to our students, parents, guardians and staff members for their strong participation in this program and for the work they are doing to maintain a safe learning environment.
596 Crescent Blvd
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137