Elmhurst School District 205 holds firm to saliva COVID testing plan for students

ELMHURST, Ill. (WLS) -- Elmhurst school officials are holding firm to their plan to saliva test students for COVID-19, allowing a return to in-person school four days a week.

Elmhurst District 205 school board members looked to ease parents' concerns at a meeting Thursday night, but did not budge on their plan for school-wide testing.

RELATED: Elmhurst School District 205 plans to saliva test students; some parents question if it's legal

Tubes of saliva will be the price of entry for students to return to regular classroom learning starting Monday.

"I feel like it's totally fine. It's just spit. My sister goes to U of I and she's been doing the spit test for the whole time she's been there so I feel like there's no issue with it," said Emma Garvey, senior at York High School.

The Champaign-Urbana campus of the University of Illinois has successfully used the mass saliva testing for months, allowing students a safe chance for in-learning. The same method will now apply to Elmhursts' middle and high schoolers.

"They started saliva testing probably a month ago and it's been very successful," said Michelle Sramek, whose children are in Riverside District 96.

She said the saliva testing there has been a relief.

"It's another measure to get everybody in school. That's what all the parents really want," she said.

But plenty of parents are apprehensive about the safety and possible overreach of the new policy.

"There certainly isn't a necessarily a health risk to swabbing your child but I thought I was the parent," said Elmhurst parent Erin Stratton.

"We understand this is a topic that there are varying degrees of opinion on," said Beverly Redmond, executive director of communications and PR for the district. "Certainly we are working 100% to make sure our student are back in school more frequently."

The school district says most teachers are on their way to being fully vaccinated, so saliva testing won't apply to them.

Each student will take home a tube with a bar code and return it with saliva to a bin at the school at least one day a week for testing. Results come in a maximum of 36 hours, but officials said it's typically quicker and they're hoping to have results by the same night.

The hope is all the testing will allow for a four-day-a-week return to safe, in-person learning.
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