Good afternoon! We received another update from the IDPH, in the form of an FAQ. I will share the information with you in just a moment, but first wanted to take the time to thank all of you once more. We continue to work diligently in every facet of the school operations in an effort to keep both our staff and students, healthy and safe. The amazing support and understanding by all of you has been so greatly appreciated. I know that not everyone agrees with all of the recommendations, procedures, and protocols that have been handed down to the schools by the CDC, ISBE, IDPH, and the Will County Public Health Department. However, by trying to develop a plan that encompasses all of the recommendations, we are able to bring the students back to school that are comfortable being here while still working tirelessly to serve our remote students as well as our quarantined students. We have an amazing staff that have been more than willing to make adjustments, many times overnight, in order to try and serve the needs of all of our students. We are only able to do these things because we are all working together.
Regarding the latest release from the IDPH, we are posting the most recent copy of the FAQ release, online. I think it does a very good job of answering questions and explaining several things. With the recent increase in positive cases throughout the State and United States, the emphasis on mask wearing is being reinforced, as well and likely more importantly, social distancing. The latest release by the IDPH specifically addresses the use of the gaiter face coverings, referencing the CDC guidance. At this time, the IDPH is recommending NOT allowing the use of gaiter face coverings and therefore I am asking our building principals to notify their staff and students to only allow face masks to be worn until we receive different guidance from the IDPH. If a student wears a gaiter face covering to school, they will be provided with a face mask to wear in its place. If your child(ren) does not have a face mask, the school is able to provide you with one. Please just contact the school office and request one. As always, we appreciate your understanding and cooperation with the ever changing guidance.
As we move into the holidays as well as the flu season fast approaching, I certainly ask that everyone be cognizant of our situation and how challenging it is and will continue to be, to mitigate the spread of this virus as well as all other sickness, inside the schools. We can only do this together and with everyone’s help. We have only had a few cases that have affected us within the schools. Most of the students or staff that have to quarantine are as the result of being a “close contact” to someone outside of our schools. I want to reassure you that our nursing staff and administration are working very closely with the Will County Health Department to trace every possible exposure within our school buildings and classrooms, and that we are following the direction of the Will County Health Department in regards to who we must contact and ask to quarantine due to the fact they consider them a close contact. As we move forward, I will authorize the contact of all families in a classroom, with a positive case, without identifying the person who tested positive. I understand and respect the importance of being able to make the decision as to what is best and safest for your child(ren) and your family. Each week, I will post on our website, the number of “new” positive cases that we have confirmed by the individual/family, or the Will County Health Department. They are identified by each building. Anyone who is a “close contact” and that must quarantine as the result of a positive case in the building, will be contacted directly, as soon as possible, by the school nurse or building administrator. All others in the class(es) will receive a letter stating there was a positive case.
As always, we all have to do our part to follow the mitigations that are in place in order to keep everyone as safe and healthy as we possibly can. I think we all can see and realize that positive cases have occurred, are occurring and will continue to occur. It is our hope that with the safety measures and mitigations in place, the number of positive cases and exposures remain low and controlled within our schools. Through the first full 3 weeks of being back to in-person instruction, we have experienced a total of six (6) new positive cases. This number does not include the number of “close contacts” that have had to be quarantined, but only those that actually test positive. We are very hopeful that we can continue to stay safe and provide our current models of instruction. We need everyone’s help by making sure that you self-certify every day (even on remote days during hybrid schedule) or absent, and if your student is not feeling well, please stay home.
We are committed to our current models (EC in-person, PFA hybrid, K-5 half day, 6-8 hybrid) for the foreseeable future or until Winter break, unless circumstances change or the Governor issues an order that would require us to revert back to full remote. In an effort to maintain our current models we are creatively staffing daily vacancies and will continue to utilize all available qualified staff members to support all of our students, however, if we get to the point where we are unable to provide a safe environment due to staffing, we will be forced to look at alternative plans. As always, we will continue our efforts to safely serve all of our students and families.
Superintendent of Schools