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EDUCATION

Watch now: Lack of COVID test kits hamper Southern Illinois community colleges

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CARTERVILLE — As area community colleges approach on-campus testing of students for COVID-19, supply chain problems and a lack of testing kits is causing concerns and has forced John A. Logan College to delay the beginning of the mandated testing.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has mandated that all students at higher education institutions in the state either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or subject to regular testing. John is contracting with SHIELD for saliva-based testing services. The SHIELD testing system was developed by the University of Illinois.

“We were hoping to have our campus ready to begin fully testing on Monday, Sept. 20. Unfortunately, we had to shift gears at the last minute due to some supplies from SHIELD not arriving in time to begin our campus entrance process,” John A. Logan College President Kirk Overstreet said in an email to The Southern.

Overstreet said the supplies are now on-site and testing will begin Sept. 27. He said some testing is already underway as is planning for other procedures.

“We continue to test our athletes daily and encourage our students and staff to get vaccinated. Our team is busy reviewing vaccination records and issuing Campus Fast Pass IDs, and we have posted entry procedures and links to sign up for SHIELD testing on our website,” he said.

He continued, “We hope that this, along with using SHIELD for on-campus testing, will make the transition to compliance as smooth as possible for our community when we begin on Sept. 27.”

Rend Lake College COVID testing

A portable sign announces a COVID-19 vaccination clinic Wednesday at Rend Lake College while the institution's digital message board reminds students and employees to wear a face mask on campus.

At Southeastern Illinois College, officials are optimistic about their testing supplies, Executive Director of Marketing and Public Relations Angela Wilson said.

“We do have enough testing supplies to get started, but we do have a limited supply. We will conduct our testing as scheduled beginning tomorrow. If or when the supplies do run out in the coming weeks, we will of course be at the mercy of the suppliers,” she said.

Vaccination clinic Rend Lake College (copy)

Betty Deters prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic on the Rend Lake College campus, Sept. 1.

According to SIC’s website, on-campus testing began on Wednesday.

Rend Lake College President Terry Wilkerson summed up the struggles colleges are having very simply.

“No one's got enough testing kits,” he said.

Wilkerson said Rend Lake College originally planned on using SHIELD tests, but also is having trouble receiving the kits. He added that the college is still gathering proof of COVID-19 immunizations, but he expects about one-third of the RLC student body to have been fully vaccinated.

“We’re still rolling out testing and we're doing the best we can do to be compliant and to keep the campus safe. That's our priority.” Wilkerson said.

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