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Pikeland schools offer different testing to lower COVID cases in youth

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PITTSFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) -- Health officials are starting to see younger cases of COVID-19 in Pike County, Illinois.

The Pike County Health Department said the average age of those testing positive this month has been 33 years old, and in August it was 40 years old.

The Pikeland School District had a total of two COVID-19 outbreaks this year. To try to keep cases low, they've implemented SHIELD testing.

SHIELD testing is a saliva-based PCR test that detects COVID-19 even if the person does not show symptoms. The testing is offered at the schools, and students and staff in the Pikeland School District can opt-in to take the test up to twice a week.

Pikeland Superintendent Carol Kilver said participating in SHIELD testing this school year has made it easier to track people who may have been exposed.

"When we have had a positive case that has surfaced through the SHIELD testing, the process works smoother, the process works in a more informed experience versus some of that gray area that has been present in the last school year," Kilver said.

"I mean it's nice to have that to supposedly get rid of, I mean you have people quarantined before they can test positive or they can pass along symptoms," Pittsfield Math Teacher Adam Singler said.

Kilver said parents have the option to opt-in their child for shield testing, and she recommends parents who are apprehensive to speak to parents with children who have participated.

"It's provided a little bit of stability to the decision-making. So I think I would recommend that any parent who is thinking about it, talk to a parent who is participating and let them share their experience," Kilver said.

Pittsfield High School has seen the most COVID-19 cases in the district this year.

As of last week, there were five cases at the high school, one case at the Pikeland Community School, and one at Pittsfield South Elementary.

The Pikeland School District is looking to open up SHIELD testing to the community at the middle school, but they're still working out the details.

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Rebecca Duffy

Multimedia Journalist

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