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Surveillance Testing at Wheaton North

By: Lena Forbes

As Wheaton North High School attempts to make the transition to hybrid learning once again, there has been a new implementation of optional surveillance testing for students and staff. The goal of this testing is “to not only bring students back to school...but also to help keep students in schools,” according to an update from the CUSD 200 board. Families were given the option mid-December to opt-in or out of the surveillance tests, and, according to Assistant Principal Venckus, “approximately 50% of both students and staff” have opted into the tests.

The test itself is fairly simple: students and staff were given a bag of tiny vials, straws, and bags to collect their saliva samples. When you are ready to collect your saliva, you simply spit through the straw and gently blow your sample into the vial. The sample is then placed into the tiny bag and brought to the school for collection.

This test does have a 0.01% false positivity rate, but it will still allow North to better control the spread of the virus. Sophomore Katie Payne, a student who opted into the testing, says, “[The tests] are really practical and a great addition to the new schedule.” This mitigation strategy is appreciated by many, especially those students and staff who want to be back in the building for the learning experience. If you are interested in opting in with the start of the second semester or have any other questions, feel free to reach out to Mr. Venckus or anybody else in the Wheaton North offices. They will connect you with the information you need.

At this point, it looks like the saliva tests will be a new reality for many members of North. As Assistant Principal Mr. Venckus says, “There is no end date at this time...we evaluate the results weekly and continue to re-assess the duration of the testing.” After all of the variations in learning that have come due to the pandemic, the hope is that these adaptations will continue to allow students to learn in the safest and best way possible.

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