Dear Manhattan 114 Families:
I wanted to take a moment to update you as we continue to move forward with the school year. While there is still the need to take precautions and it will be some time before the pandemic ends, there is reason for hope. The positivity rate for Will County, Region 7, and the State of Illinois continues to improve. Although it has been very slow, the vaccinations continue to occur. I was happy to be able to report that over 70% of the Manhattan 114 staff have begun the vaccination process and will have their second dose at the end of the month, and within the first week or two of March. Based on this information, at our February board meeting, the Manhattan Board of Education directed me and the administration to move forward with resuming a full-time schedule for students, beginning March 22, 2021. Please understand that even when we resume full day schedules, there will still be many of the current mitigations in place (self-certification, face masks must be worn, current sanitation and cleaning procedures, social distancing, etc.). More detailed information will be forthcoming in the coming weeks. One very important item that we are currently working towards, is determining the staffing needs and assignments so that we are able to provide for our Remote and Quarantine Learners in a much more effective manner than we currently do. Our teaching staff has been nothing short of incredible as they have worked hard to provide instruction to three different groups of learners (in-person, remote, and quarantined). I have the utmost confidence in them as we take another step forward.
In addition to the changes that come with starting full, in-person schedules at all of our buildings, we are updating our quarantine requirements based on changes/recommendations of the CDC. While the 14 day quarantine is still the recommended guidance for close contacts, the CDC has offered a shortened ten day quarantine for close contacts who receive a negative PCR test on day 8 or later and remain asymptomatic from the last exposure of the positive case. If the result is negative, then the student may return to school on Day 11, so long as they remain asymptomatic (symptom free). Please contact your school nurse if you have any questions.
One other item that I need to bring to your attention involves a change in the current School Calendar. At the board meeting last week, the board supported changing the current 2020-21 school calendar to reflect next Wednesday, February 24th as a Remote Planning Day for the teaching staff, and therefore a Non-Student Attendance Day. The reasoning for this is because approximately 75 teaching staff will be receiving the 2nd Vaccine Dose the day before and based on experience, a large majority of them will in all likelihood be symptomatic and unable to work the next day. We are doing this in order to be proactive and not have to cancel classes at the last minute. We hope this helps for your planning purposes and appreciate your understanding and support.
Rusty Ragon, Superintendent