DROP OFF: Students place their saliva tubules in a designated bucket on Feb. 18 (Olivia Shirk)
DROP OFF: Students place their saliva tubules in a designated bucket on Feb. 18

Olivia Shirk

CDC update metric guidelines, saliva screenings become optional

February 19, 2021

Saliva screenings will now be optional for in-person students due to updated guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which was announced in an email sent to District 99 students and families on Feb. 19.

The saliva screenings, which started for in-person students Feb. 16, were implemented for the purpose of ensuring a safe learning environment while also becoming less reliant on community COVID-19 metrics.

“Even though screenings are now optional, given that student participation ensures our ability to offer in-person learning, we highly encourage students to continue to participate,” the email wrote.

Along with the announcement of optional saliva screenings, the Centers for Disease Control provided new guidance and expanded the metrics to be used to open schools Feb. 12.

The new metrics state that as long as 10% of students participate in the screenings, the need to return to fully remote learning can be avoided based solely on metrics.

“When community metrics improve, we will be able to increase opportunities for in-person learning,” the email wrote, “School will not look exactly as it did before COVID, due to safety protocols we must continue to follow.”

Due to the lowered Covid-19 metrics and the expected effectiveness of the saliva screenings, a new back-to-school model will be created and shared with the school community before spring break.

A more in-depth explanation of the saliva screenings guidelines and newly proposed metrics will be shared with the Board of Education Feb. 22.

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