Wilmette District 39 students who have experienced symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19 will now have access to testing through the district.
The Wilmette Public Schools Board of Education voted Monday, Nov. 16, to expand access to the district’s testing programs to students. Under the approved contract, household members of district staff will also have access to the testing.
D39 launched a testing-access partnership for employees in October. The partnership with Ambry Genetics provides all staff members with access to PCR testing, according to district documents.
Employees can get tested for COVID-19 through this partnership, or through other testing sites, if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, according to information detailing the partnership.
Similar access is now available for students facing the same experiences.
Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli said during the Nov. 16 meeting that the district has had good experiences with Ambry thus far, adding that the district is pleased to expand the program.
According to board documents, each test will cost the district $10, plus shipping and handling costs and time for administrative oversight of the program. Families who choose to access the program for their child will be charged a fee of $20 per test, the district says.
Fee waivers will be available to qualified parties through the district’s Angel Fund.
“We’re trying to make this as breakeven as possible and really offer it as convenience to our families; and also recognize that having this testing available will allow us to have certainty in what we’re doing within our schools,” Cremascoli said. “We’re really excited to offer this.”
Documents detailing the agreement say results for each COVID-19 test under this program shall be delivered to the district within 72 hours from the time Ambry receives and accepts a specimen.
Testing results for students will be tracked through the school and school nurses, Cremascoli said. Staff results are tracked through the human resources department, she added.
In addition to expanding testing access, the district is also exploring options for COVID-19 screening or surveillance testing, according to Cremascoli. She said District 39’s program would be similar to what New Trier High School is offering but stated it would not likely be a permanent program.
“We don’t envision this being a forever endeavor,” she said. “But something for when our metrics are really high and we’re experiencing substantial risks. We want to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to limit asymptotic or presymptomatic individuals from entering our buildings.”
The district is targeting a start date sometime in the first week of January, according to Cremascoli, who said there’s a possibility that it could begin sooner but depends on what solutions may come forward.
“We have been closely monitoring what New Trier has been doing and they seem to be having some good success with their program,” she said.
The administration will bring forward solutions as soon as they are ready and Cremascoli advised the board that it may need to call a special meeting once a potential option is ready.
District 39 has 11 active student cases of COVID-19 and one active staff case, as of Nov. 16, according to the district’s dashboard. Thirty-eight students and five staff members are in quarantine, per the district’s data.
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Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.