COVID tests are now available for use in school

Grayslake North recently began testing individuals who have shown COVID symptoms at school throughout the day. This will help students and staff be more safe as more and more people return to in-person school.

“Since last month, I’ve tested maybe four students so far,” said school nurse Annie Swiatek. “It takes place in the isolation room. We have an isolation room that the kids go to if they have symptoms during the school day. Then I have to get the parents’ permission to perform the test.”

If a student tests positive, they will be placed into isolation and will have to quarantine. Contact tracing will occur to make sure anyone whom the virus could have spread to will be notified and placed into quarantine if necessary. 

“If an individual tested positive while at school, that student is sent to the isolation room and we call home to get them picked up,” said associate principal Megan Licht. “After that, students that were in the classroom with the student that tested positive will be moved to another location, and that room will be cleaned. After that we will start to contact trace to see if students in class were a close contact of the other students.”

The test being administered is a rapid test in order to determine whether or not someone has COVID as quickly as possible. The test is done by utilizing a nasal swab. 

“It is a rapid test,” Swiatek said. “It takes 15 minutes to get the results, so you would know right away. It’s basically for people that have symptoms.”

Because of its ability to ensure safety, there have been questions about whether or not the rapid tests will be used for people entering the building for sports or clubs.

“They have talked about it at one point doing it once a week like a screening,” Swiatek said. “To make it efficient, you’d have to do it every week, and to have that many kids be screened once a week, I think it would be costly.”

But regardless of cost, the rapid test is a very positive step toward ensuring the safety of everyone in the school. Whether or not the tests will be used next year is based on whether or not COVID is still a major issue. But if we do need it, we will be able to test individuals to guarantee safety.

“Safety, just knowing that if there are kids that are positive that we would know right away,” Swiatek said. “Sometimes it’s just a security. If we have a sick kid, we know right away so we can take measures to make sure it doesn’t spread.”