A COVID quick-test device. (Shutterstock)

With the COVID-19 pandemic still very much with us, Evanston Township High School will continue to offer free COVID testing during the summer.

The optional, walk-in tests will be available at the school from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays from June 2 through July 14.

Current students and staff are eligible, as are incoming freshmen (COVID tests date for those first-year students begin June 16).

If a parent or guardian does not want their child to receive COVID tests, an opt-out form must be completed no later than June 5.

This saliva testing program, called SHIELD, is done in cooperation with the University of Illinois.

While about 95% of ETHS students and staff have already been vaccinated against the virus, some individuals are still coming down with COVID, vaccinated or not.

However, health experts say that COVID symptoms are generally far less severe for someone who has received the original round of shots as well as boosters.

The most recent ETHS COVID dashboard shows 50 student cases in the week ending May 23. While a tiny fraction of the school’s more than 3,700 youngsters, it is still the highest number of newly positive cases in at least the past two months.

School District 65, the elementary and middle school feeder system for ETHS, will conclude SHIELD testing on June 3.

However, the district says it will “continue to review health conditions and operational considerations,” and let the community know if testing will be re-instituted over the summer.

The District 65 dashboard shows 86 cases in the seven-day period ending May 31 for a system with nearly 7,000 students, preK-grade 8, slightly lower test positivity than previous periods in May, but somewhat higher than most of April.

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

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