With the number of student COVID-19 cases more than doubling, and with school now on remote learning, Evanston Township High School will offer COVID testing to all students next semester, regardless of their vaccination status.

The new policy takes effect the week of Jan. 10, when students return from winter break.

Previously, only unvaccinated students were given the testing opportunity.

In a website message, ETHS says the University of Illinois SHIELD testing “supports our efforts to monitor and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our school community.”

The non-invasive saliva tests are free, and will be offered during school hours.

All ETHS students, the school says, will complete COVID testing on Jan. 10 and 11 “to help identify trends in COVID-19 prevalence and transmission after the break.” Ongoing weekly testing will begin in the following week.

Even though the most recent data showed 93% of ETHS students to be fully vaccinated, there were still 129 newly reported cases of COVID for the week ending Dec. 17. There were only 52 total cases in the four prior months of school.

It is possible for parents/guardians to submit an opt-out form if they do not want their children to be tested.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.