The innovative saliva-based test developed by the COVID-19 SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell team is available for family and household members of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty, staff and students through SHIELD CU, a program offered in partnership with OSF HealthCare.

SHIELD CU is a campus-community partnership to reduce our community COVID-19 positivity rate, keep it low and allow our schools, businesses and activities to safely stay open. SHIELD CU partners with various community groups to help evaluate and meet the diverse needs of Champaign County residents. Visit for more about the local expansion of the SHIELD ecosystem. Information on this site is specifically for family and household members of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty, staff and students

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Getting tested

SHIELD CU uses the saliva-based test invented at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Unlike conventional nasal testing, saliva samples are collected non-invasively.


The test is available to family and household members eight years of age or older of current faculty, staff and students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Please note family members 18 years of age or older living in University Housing apartments are already required to test and will remain eligible to test free of charge. 


The cost is $10 per test for family and household members. No fee will be charged for invalid tests. A bill will be mailed to the home address of the sponsoring faculty, staff or student on the second business day of the month. Payment is due on the 28th of the month.

Bills may be paid online via ACH/e-check or credit card or by mailed check following instructions on the billing statement.

Faculty and staff never enrolled as a student within the University of Illinois System may pay their bill online through the General Accounts Receivable (GAR) Online Payment Center.

Enrolled students or faculty and staff previously enrolled as a student within the University of Illinois System may pay their bill online through UI-Pay. Log in with your NetID and password.

For questions about billing, contact

Enrollment with the Safer Community App

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Download the Safer Community App and enter an email of your choice to get started. When you receive a message that no organizations have sponsored the email you entered, select “yes” to continue. You will then create an account, making sure to complete the Patient Information Form. The first time you sign in to the app, select “join group” on the app homepage and choose the U of Illinois employee family member group.

You must have the UIN of your sponsoring faculty, staff or student. A sponsor’s UIN can be found on their iCard or by entering their SSN and date of birth on UIN-find.

The sponsoring faculty, staff or student will receive a request in their Safer Illinois App to authorize the family member and provide consent for testing minors (ages 8-17). The sponsoring family member must update to the latest version of the Safer Illinois app to approve the permission request. Once approved, the family member’s status will change from “pending” to “available,” and a QR code will be generated for the Status Card.

The sponsoring faculty, staff or student must be a legal guardian to provide consent to test a minor. Minors may create their own account if they have their own device. Alternatively, Illinois faculty, students and staff, or another adult member in the household, may create additional accounts for minors (ages 8-17) in the Safer Community App by logging out and repeating the process with a different email address (one option is to create an alias such as 

View the Safer Community User Guide for University of Illinois Families and Households

Before Getting Tested

Log in to the Safer Community app and make sure you have completed the Patient Information Form. Select “Show Status Card/QR Code” and swipe left to show your QR code. This code will be scanned at the testing site.

You should refrain from eating, drinking, tooth brushing, mouth washing, gum chewing, and tobacco use for at least one hour before submitting your saliva sample at the test location.

While you line up at the testing location, you should wear a face covering and practice social distancing.

The Testing Process

Family and household members will use the designated SHIELD CU line staffed by OSF HealthCare at the testing site and check in using the Safer Community App.

Because of differences in the way samples are identified and matched, faculty, staff, and students who visit the testing site with their families will need to check in and test separately from their family members (including minors). Only faculty, staff and students may test through campus SHIELD, and only family members may test through SHIELD CU.

You will be asked to provide a saliva sample. The sample collection only takes a few minutes.

Test results

Getting your results

Results will be available through the Safer Community app. Typical test results are expected within 12 hours, but results could take up to 48 hours.

Tests are processed separately from campus testing. Please plan with the understanding that test results may take up to 48 hours.

How Results are Processed and Stored

COVID-19 test results through SHIELD CU are analyzed, exported, validated and pushed for recording in the secure electronic health record used by OSF Healthcare. From there, the test results are reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Saliva samples are collected for COVID-19 testing only unless individuals have agreed to participate in a COVID-19 research study.

Questions about testing and results

Visit for additional information.

Testing, test results and the Safer Community app


Other questions about Illinois household family member testing

Testing location

Illinois family and household members may only test at the State Farm Center testing site.

State Farm Center

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and noon – 4 p.m.

Saturday: 8 a.m. to noon; Sunday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

South First Street, Champaign

  • The indoor testing site can be accessed through the West Main Circle Drive doors.
  • Parking is available in the southwest parking lot of the State Farm Center.

Testing frequency and schedules

Science tells us that frequent testing is critical to keeping our community as safe as possible. SHIELD CU helps to increase access to rapid-result PCR testing.

Illinois family and household members are not required to test. They may choose their testing frequency and may use SHIELD CU testing or other COVID-19 testing options in our community. We recommend testing at least once per week so that symptomatic, pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers may be quickly identified, notified and isolated.

The University of Illinois saliva test

SHIELD CU testing sites administer innovative saliva-based tests, a process developed by the COVID-19 SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell team at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Unlike conventional nasal testing, saliva samples are collected non-invasively, without healthcare workers and with minimal use of PPE.

The lab used to process the samples has achieved regulatory compliance necessary to perform High Complexity testing under federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) guidelines.


Under ordinary circumstances, a test to detect a virus might be subjected to a review process of several years before it is put into production. But against the context of a global pandemic, there are established federal review processes that deliberately accelerate the launch and approval of new testing methods. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is following these approval processes.

The University of Illinois saliva test asks individuals to provide a saliva sample. Science tells us saliva is the medium that matters most, because that is how COVID-19 is spread. The saliva test from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been approved by a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified lab director. The university validated its laboratory-developed test under CLIA by successfully comparing its performance to an FDA Emergency Use Authorized test. View the data that led to this approval.

Compared to the nasal test, the saliva-based test is fast, free of supply chain bottlenecks and cost-effective, because saliva tests do not require nasal swabs, etc.

The University of Illinois saliva test, compared to other saliva tests, skips RNA-isolation (a cumbersome process) which allows quicker results. The test is faster, cheaper and eliminates a key supply-chain bottleneck.

Studies to date are consistent with this new saliva test not being less accurate than the nasal test.

Frequently Asked Questions

Illinois Family Member Testing

Why does the test cost $10 for families even though it is free for employees?

Although the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign saliva test costs far less than a standard nasal swab test, the cost of testing exceeds $10 per test. Charging a $10 fee for testing makes it possible for Illinois family and household members to take advantage of testing through SHIELD CU.

Is the test cost covered by insurance?

SHIELD CU does not work directly with insurance providers. You may wish to speak directly with your insurance provider about the possibility of submitting for reimbursement. Note that our testing site is not an Illinois Department of Public Health COVID-19 testing location. Here is a helpful link for those locations:

Can I pay my bill for testing with an MCAP card?

Yes, the Medical Care Assistance Plan (MCAP) credit card is an accepted form of payment. Note that the billing documentation alone may not be sufficient for MCAP reimbursement as it does not include the names of individuals tested. The MCAP program may request additional documentation, such as screenshots of the testing history.

Why can’t my child under 8 years old test?

SHIELD CU works to ensure a successful testing experience for all users. We do not currently have the additional support needed to test young children. We encourage families to use other community testing options for children under eight years old.

The Saliva Test

My test results came back “invalid.” What does that mean?

Invalid results typically occur when non-optimal saliva samples are submitted. Before your next test, please be sure to refrain from eating, drinking, tooth brushing, mouth washing, or tobacco use for at least 1 hour prior to submitting your saliva sample. For best results, it is recommended to hydrate during the morning and get tested in the afternoon.

Does the saliva test detect new variants of COVID-19?

Yes. The saliva test developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign detects the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, including new variants that have been identified to date.

Can I print my test results for travel?

There is not currently a way to print your test results. Additionally, we recommend that you confirm with your airline what type of report or test will be accepted. If you need a nasal swab test that is FDA certified, our saliva test will not be sufficient for your travel needs.

Other Questions

Visit for additional information about testing, support for those who test positive, the Safer Communities App, and more.