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District 47 Offers Antigen Testing for Staff

In partnership with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the McHenry County Health Department (MCHD), Crystal Lake Elementary District 47 will become the first school district in McHenry county to offer rapid COVID-19 testing for staff starting Monday, March 22.

The purpose of providing COVID testing is to provide a quick, convenient and affordable test for staff who may be experiencing COVID-like symptoms. The rapid COVID test is a BinaxNOW antigen test. Antigen testing helps detect certain proteins that are part of the COVID-19 virus. Funding for the test kits is being provided by the IDPH so there is no cost to staff. 

“Being able to rule out COVID early on helps reduce community spread of the virus and allows the school district to maintain adequate staffing levels during the pandemic,” said Dr. Kathy Hinz, superintendent. 

Testing will be held most weekday afternoons at the District 47 administrative office (CORE Center), 300 Commerce Drive in Crystal Lake. Staff must make an appointment in advance and create an account through a mobile app called Navica, which will enable them to receive test results. Test results are typically available in 15-30 minutes: If the test result is positive, staff will need to isolate and obtain a PCR COVID test to confirm the results; if the test result is negative, staff will have piece of mind that their symptoms are not due to COVID and they can return to work. 

A school district or other organization must obtain approval from the state of Illinois to serve as a COVID-19 testing site. This application process can take months to complete and includes obtaining a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) waiver and a standing order from a physician to allow school nurses to freely administer the tests. Tony Brooks, District 47’s director of special education, and Amanda Keegan, West Elementary school nurse and member of the McHenry county school nurse taskforce, started this application process back in December and are credited with bringing rapid COVID testing to the district.  

“We are grateful to Tony and Amanda for taking on this major initiative,” said Dr. Kathy Hinz, superintendent. “Though the number of positive COVID cases within our school district remains low and many staff members have now been vaccinated, we are thrilled to add another layer to our multi-tiered health and safety plan.” 

Hinz noted that COVID testing will serve as an additional mitigation measure to help support the continued facilitation of in-person learning in District 47 and that the district hopes to be able to expand the testing opportunity to students next year.