COVID-19 Testing and Exclusion Protocols

Optional SHIELD COVID-19 Saliva Testing for Students

Voluntary Weekly SHIELD COVID-19 Testing for HMS and HHS Students

Beginning in December, SHIELD testing will be made available weekly to all unvaccinated middle school and high school students on a voluntary basis. In order to participate in the voluntary weekly testing program, students will need to have a consent form on file for the 2021-22 school year.

The Harlem School District has partnered with the University of Illinois (SHIELD) program to assist with our efforts to monitor and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and community. Testing for COVID-19 will be performed on a voluntary basis at each of our buildings and is free to all unvaccinated students. As you make this decision for your student(s) and family, please note the following details:

  • The SHIELD test is a free, non-invasive diagnostic test for the COVID-19 virus conducted by collecting a saliva (spit) deposit in under five minutes, which provides results in 24-48 hours.

  • SHIELD testing was developed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and has a sensitivity rate of 97% and an accuracy rate of 99%.

  • Individuals should not eat, drink or chew gum within 60 minutes of providing a saliva sample.

  • Families will be notified of any positive test results directly by the 3rd party vendor and/or the school.

Voluntary Test to Stay Program for HMS and HHS Students

Unvaccinated students who participate in weekly testing and are considered a close contact to a positive COVID-19 case while remaining asymptomatic, now have the option to test using BinaxNOW on days 1, 3, 5 and 7 in order to remain at school. If a student continues to test negative and remains asymptomatic, the student will not be required to quarantine. The test to stay program only allows students to continue in-person learning. It does not pertain to athletic participation.

  • The BinaxNOW test is a free test for the COVID-19 virus using a swab to collect lower nasal deposits, which provides results in less than 20 minutes.

  • Students’ participation in this program will limit potential quarantine situations and allow students to safely remain in an in-person learning environment.

  • Families will be notified if their student is considered a close contact prior to participating in the Test to Stay Program.

For parents and guardians interested in having their student participate in voluntary COVID-19 diagnostic testing, please complete the form below (one for each student). Once completed, additional information will be provided.

Student COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Consent Form

SHIELD Illinois

For more information about the University of Illinois SHIELD program, access the program FAQ here or visit

SHIELD Illinois is a COVID-19 testing program that deploys the University of Illinois’ saliva test. Unlike other saliva-based COVID-19 tests, the SHIELD test follows the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) process as governed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning they meet federal standards for accuracy and reliability. Below is additional information about SHIELD Illinois’ COVID-19 test.

  • The SHIELD test is able to identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, as well as new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • The SHIELD test has a high degree of accuracy and sensitivity, which allows for earlier virus detection.

  • The SHIELD test is a PCR-based screening test, meaning individuals who test positive do not need to seek out a second test to confirm the result.

  • The SHIELD test is self-administered and non-invasive.

  • SHIELD tests are free and will be administered at no cost to students.

SHIELD Illinois Saliva Test Tutorial Video

When are Students Tested?

Testing will be performed once a week during the school day for students and staff. Testing must be performed no earlier than an hour after eating or drinking to ensure an accurate result.

Harlem High School: Tuesdays from 1:00 - 4:30

Harlem Middle School: Wednesdays from 1:00 - 4:30

Where are Students Tested?

Testing locations and processes will differ at each of our buildings based on daily schedules, meal times, and availability of staff and space. As the district compiles rosters of students who have opted to voluntarily participate in the SHIELD testing program, details about testing dates and locations, creating your online SHIELD portal, and instructions to access test results will be communicated to families.

How do I Access my Results?

Test results will be available in your family portal 24 hours after each test is completed. Parents will be contacted directly by a 3rd party and/or the school in the event of a positive test.

What Should I do When I Receive my Student's Test Results?

If your child’s test results are positive, please contact your child’s doctor immediately to review the test results and discuss the next steps. You may not send your child back to school without a note from your child’s doctor that indicates your child is no longer positive for the COVID-19 virus.

If your child’s test results are negative, this means that the COVID-19 virus was not detected in your child’s saliva (spit).

Tests sometimes produce incorrect negative results called “false negatives” in people who have COVID-19. If your child tests negative but has symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have concerns about your child’s exposure to COVID-19, you should call your child’s doctor.

Who will Receive my Student's Test Results?

In addition to you receiving your child’s test results, the Harlem School District and the Illinois Department of Public Health (“IDPH”) will also receive your child’s test results, consistent with IDPH guidance and the Illinois Control of Communicable Disease Code.