Frequently Asked Questions

New Trier High School 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 New Trier 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, New Trier has a more accurate assessment of COVID-19 rates and risks on campus, providing an extra layer of reassurance for providing in-person instruction in addition to the many safety measures the school already has in place on both campuses.

Who will participate?
Students and staff participating in on-campus instruction and extracurricular activities will participate. The sample drop-off schedule above allows New Trier to analyze the weekly tests right before a student is scheduled to come on campus for two consecutive days of instruction. Students participating in on-campus athletics and extracurricular programs drop off with the Sunday/Monday group. Staff will also be tested weekly.

Does my student have to participate if they are in an on-campus athletic or extracurricular program?
Yes. New Trier requires any student coming on campus for athletics, performing arts, or activities to be enrolled and participate in the weekly screening program.

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 for extracurricular activities. If your student is currently 100 percent remote but you anticipate they may switch to hybrid learning or participate in an in-person sport or activity, you may fill the form out now, but testing will not be offered unless your student enrolls in an on-campus opportunity.

Can the rest of our family participate in this program?
Due to cost and lab processing constraints, only students and staff who will participate in on-campus learning or extracurricular programs 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.

How do I sign up?
To sign up, parents/guardians (for students under 18) must submit this form .

I have multiple students attending New Trier. 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.

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?
We are still finalizing details of our sample collection procedure. Samples should be collected as close as possible to the time they will be dropped off. We will have collection boxes at both campuses, and samples can be dropped off at either campus. Students will be assigned a drop-off deadline based on the days they are scheduled to attend school. We will provide a number of drop-off times to fit families' schedules and will share those times and locations with students and parent/guardians before the first collection date.

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. More technical information about the process can be found in the Appendix to this October 13 Board of Education presentation .

Is this screening like the "rapid" tests I have heard about?
New Trier's screening is a molecular test, not the less sensitive antigen tests often used at rapid testing facilities. New Trier's screening uses RT-LAMP technology, a well-developed and well-researched RNA amplification process. While New Trier's 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 New Trier's screening but does use the same RNA amplification process:

Finally, this webinar recording includes information on New Trier's program and a Q&A with Dr. Ed Campbell, who developed the screening test New Trier is using:

How are results delivered?
Samples dropped off by 2 p.m. on Sundays, Noon on Tuesdays, or 9 a.m. on Mondays/Wednesdays will be screened that day, and students who are being referred for a PCR test and must stay at home will be notified by early the next morning. All other students will not get a notification and may attend school. Samples dropped off after 2 p.m. on Sundays, Noon on Tuesdays, or 9 a.m. on Mondays/Wednesdays will be screened the following day. The lab informs school health personnel of any bar codes that are being referred for PCR testing and those health personnel then will 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.

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 am referred for PCR testing because of my saliva sample?
You will be advised to quarantine and immediately contact your doctor or a state testing center to schedule a PCR test. Students/staff will be excluded from coming to campus 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 health 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 New Trier 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 and at New Trier, where the majority of those referred for PCR testing completed that testing and were confirmed positive for COVID-19, has also validated these results.