COUNTRYSIDE, Ill. (CBS) — Screening for coronavirus has begun in a west suburban school district, as part of an effort to keep schools open in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

CBS 2’s Meredith Barack on Saturday took us inside the process that parents are praising.

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“I had to spit in a tube,” said Cece Sanchez, a fifth grader at Spring Avenue School in La Grange. “It was pretty easy. You had to kind of blow your spit down the tube though.”

Cece was one of several students who stopped by the Ideal Elementary School, at 9901 W. 58th St. in Countryside, to participate in District 105’s voluntary saliva screening.

“When a student receives their tube, there’s a code on there so we know who the student is so when we run them in the lab we can identify it but that is all very confidential,” said La Grange School District 105 Supt. Brian Ganan.


And it’s very efficient. The screening took mere minutes for the parents and their children, and the turnaround time is just four hours.

“Our goal is to notify anybody whose sample is clinically significant, either that evening or the next morning, because the goal is that you want it before we come back to school,” Ganan said. “So that’s one of the huge benefits of this.”

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The saliva screenings will help the district identify potentially asymptomatic students and staff, which is important, as the district is currently on a hybrid model. It involves part remote learning and part in-school learning.

“I know she really enjoys going her two days a week for school, so we felt it was important,” said parent Michelle Sanchez. “Anything we can do to help keep her in school safely is exactly what we want to do.”

Sanchez said she is also hopeful the innovative program will keep the community safe, and other districts will look to La Grange as an example.

“Hopefully this catches on and spreads to other places in Illinois or even around the country,” she said.

Saliva collection will pick up Sunday morning at 9 a.m. at Ideal Elementary School. Once again, this is just for La Grange School District 105 students, faculty, and staff.

District officials want to reiterate the screenings will remain anonymous, but they will use the information for contact tracing.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff