If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By Carmen Ensinger
There is an old saying that goes, “you can’t win for losing” and that pretty much describes the situation within the Carrollton School District at the moment.
Parents took to social media, flooding it with negative comments about all of the members of the football team being quarantined for 14 days because they were exposed to COVID-19. It was asked why the district didn’t participate in the Test to Stay protocol, such as the one North Greene participates in.
Carrollton is now participating in this same program and some parents are upset because they think the school district is trying to mandate their child be tested, which is not the case at all. The testing is completely voluntary and will not be done without parental consent.
The state of Illinois has made testing available free of charge to all schools in Illinois through SHIELD Illinois. SHIELD Illinois is also able to offer BinaxNOW rapid antigen testing along with its weekly saliva testing program.
This testing can be used to keep students in school when identified as classroom close contact through the Test to Stay protocol. This allows asymptomatic students to avoid quarantine by testing on days one, three, five and seven after exposure as long as they continue to test negative. Otherwise, they would automatically be quarantined for 10 to 14 days, depending on the IDPH.
To prevent the transmission of COVID through sports, it is suggested that schools should implement screening testing of participants who are not fully vaccinated up to 24 hours before a sporting, competition, or extracurricular event.
Carrollton Superintendent Mark Halwachs announced participation in this new program of voluntary testing through two all-calls made to parents followed by a consent form sent home to parents for them to sign to give consent for their child to be tested should they come in close contact with a positive person.
The all-call stated: “Carrollton School District is pleased to announced we now have a system in place to offer COVID-19 testing for students with parental consent. At this time, two options will be available in the near future.
“Option one – rapid nasal testing is available Monday through Friday for students who have developed or have an exposure and would like to be tested. Rapid testing does not release any student from quarantine due to direct contact. Tests will be provided at no cost to the student or family. Results are available in 15 minutes. Tests will be available by appointment only. Please call the school office to request a time.
Option two – Saliva PCR testing is available Monday through Thursday based on the availability of the lab. These are send-out tests and results are not available the same day. The saliva testing may be utilized for weekly testing or when a PCR is required to return to school. Parental consent is required for both options. No test will be administered without parental consent. Consent may be revoked by the parent at any time through written communication. If you do not want your student to be tested, do not complete consent form.”
However, the consent form, which is a standardized form required to be sent out by school districts by the Illinois Department of Public Health, outraged some parents with some of its verbage.
At the heart of the controversy was the paragraph that stated: “We are arranging to test all students for whom permission is provided at least one time per week. Testing students ensures the best protection and prevention from COVID-19.”
Halwachs said that is not going to take place at Carrollton.
“First of all, we couldn’t test every student once a week even if we wanted to,” Halwachs said. “We don’t have enough staff to do it. It would take four nurses for us to accomplish that task and we only have the one nurse on staff. That was never our intention with this program. I know it states that in the consent form, but parents need to remember that this form comes from the IDPH – it is something that we have to utilize to be in compliance in order to be a part of this program.”
But the school will have the tests on hand and they are free of charge.
“I don’t think people realize that this is actually a service that is being provided to them free of charge,” Halwachs said. “Because COVID tests are no longer free. You go to get a COVID test now and it could cost you upwards of $500. But if you think your child has been in contact with someone who might be positive, we will conduct the test for free. All we are doing is trying to provide a service and to try and keep kids in school.”