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RPS 205 says it plans to expand vaccine and testing mandates when more testing is available

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — After announcing a vaccine and or testing mandate for middle and high school students on Monday, district leaders tell WREX that mandate will likely expand in the future.

RPS Chief of Schools Morgan Gallagher says the district only has enough testing supplies to cover student athletes and other co-curricular activities.

The district will use SHIELD tests which are saliva based and take less than a minute to complete. Those tests have been handed out for about two weeks now by the district.

Gallagher says there are about 13,000 middle and high school students combined in the district, so they would need to greatly expand testing to accommodate weekly testing for all students who don't want to get vaccinated.

"We'd really like to be able to expand it so can keep our schools as safe as possible, really minimizing the amount of students we've had out on quarantine," Gallagher said.

Gallagher added that the goal of expanded testing would be to keep students in school as overall attendance rates have dropped in the district this year, largely due to students needing to quarantine according to Gallagher.

According to the most recent Illinois Report Card data, half of RPS students fell under "chronic absenteeism" which means they missed 10% of their classes in the 2020 school year.

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Investigative Reporter

William Ingalls is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. He joined the team in 2019 as a photographer after graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and English from Augustana College. William was born and raised in Rockford.

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