Illinois expands no-cost, low-cost COVID-19 testing to elementary schools across the state

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced on Wednesday that it is expanding access to no-cost and low-cost COVID-19 testing to elementary schools across Illinois.

IDPH says schools can choose to utilize the saliva-based covidSHIELD test developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). 

The covidSHIELD test can quickly detect the virus that causes COVID-19, and its variants, including in people who do not have symptoms, the state said.

"As we move ever closer to returning to how we lived pre-pandemic, it is critically important that we identify cases of COVID-19 as quickly as possible to help prevent outbreaks, which could ultimately lead to new surges," said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  "Offering testing in schools, along with vaccination and masking, can help protect students, staff and teachers when in-person learning resumes."

CREDIT: State of Illinois

Schools and IDPH will receive test results within 24 hours of specimens reaching a SHIELD Illinois lab.

Testing will be free for schools in districts that are predominantly low-income and have experienced high rates of COVID-19 infection. 

Other schools will receive a discounted fee of $10 per test, the state said.


IDPH expanded covidSHIELD testing to middle and high schools across Illinois outside the city of Chicago last month.

IDPH is utilizing federal funds from the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan to offer the rapid results testing, the state said.

"I am pleased to see the protective screen that our covidSHIELD test-and-trace system provides being extended now to elementary schools around Illinois. I am deeply thankful to the Illinois Department of Public Health for its vision in making this safe, effective and efficient system available to so many students and teachers," University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen said. "Providing this kind of service to the state is at the heart of our land-grant mission."

For more information on evidence-based funding, click here.