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Potential data leak causes confusion for Belvidere School District parents

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Belvidere School Covid_Web Pic

BELVIDERE (WREX) — A data error has caused confusion in the Belvidere School District. 

On Wednesday, the school district sent out an email to parents saying there was an issue involving data surrounding the saliva based COVID-19.

The school district said Wednesday night while the University of Illinois SHIELD staff were preparing data files for the district to participate in weekly testing, they provided additional medical data to the school district. 

When these individuals called SHIELD's help line, they were told that their information had been transferred to the school district's SHIELD account at request of the school district.

However, the school district says they never requested the additional information.

After some investigating, the school district now says no additional student or staff member's health information was released to the district. The only information that was sent to the school district included names, birthdays and contact information. 

The school district says at this point, both the school district and SHIELD were compliant with federal student privacy laws.

SHIELD cross-checked the school district's rosters to see which individuals had a previously signed consent form with SHIELD that allowed SHIELD to collect and store information. This was done in accordance with those individuals’ signed waivers through SHIELD to ensure SHIELD did not create multiple accounts for the same person.

Daniel Woestman, the superintendent of the Belvidere School District, says being in the SHIELD database does not mean a student or staff member opted into testing, but allows the school district to track if they consented to testing.

Of the 8,478 individuals in the Belvidere School District (staff and students), 1156 consented to regular testing.

Woestman says the school district is still looking into the incident. 

"We are continuing to investigate the details of our partnership with SHIELD to ensure our staff and students' privacy is honored. We will provide additional updates to families as we gather more information."

Woestman says following the initial email Wednesday night, the school district received roughly 30 calls from concerned individuals.