September 16, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians,
It is hard to believe that September is upon us. With one month of school already completed, I would like to extend my sincere thanks for your help managing remote learning from home. I know it has not been easy, so your partnership is appreciated now more than ever.
I am so proud of our students and staff for adjusting to a virtual learning environment and making positive gains in teaching and learning each day. Thank you for your continued flexibility, patience and collaboration as we navigate this school year together.
We are on track to begin our rolling reentry to in-person instruction beginning Monday, September 21, and are delighted to welcome some students back to the classroom!
As a reminder, our tentative rolling reentry schedule is as follows:
Monday, September 21: Kindergarten and K-8 self-contained special education programs
CLA: ACES, Multiple Needs (MN), Early Childhood SIP: Half-day only (9:00-11:30 a.m.); transition to a full- or extended-day starting on Tuesday, October 13
Monday, September 28: Grades 1-2
Tuesday, September 29: Self-contained early childhood
Monday, October 5: Grades 3-4
Tuesday, October 13: Grades 5-8 and ECDEC/blended early childhood (junior high in hybrid model)
HEALTH REMINDERS FOR IN-PERSON LEARNING
As we return to in-person learning, there are some very important health and safety protocols that students entering the buildings will need to remember. As parents/guardians, your full participation and adherence to all guidelines will help ensure everyone stays healthy as we resume face-to-face instruction.
COVID symptom self-certification is required for all people entering the building each day. Please remember that an adult needs to sign the self-certification card (sent home in most schools’ materials pick-up) daily. Lanyards have been distributed and cards will need to be presented at the door upon entry to school. Staff will do a secondary temperature screening with a touchless thermometer before each child enters the building.
As of September 10, the IDPH COVID-19 symptoms to check for daily include:
Fever of 100.4 or higher, new onset of moderate to severe headache, shortness of breath, new cough, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain from unknown cause, new congestion/runny nose, new loss of sense of taste or smell, nausea, fatigue from unknown cause, muscle or body aches.
Students who do not have their self-certification cards signed upon arrival will be asked the symptom screening questions prior to being allowed inside of the school. Please know this will delay the start of your child’s learning, so we ask that you partner with us and please ensure you ask your child(ren) symptom screener questions as part of your new morning routines, sign and return the card to the lanyards so they are ready to go each morning. Your full cooperation will expedite getting symptom-free students into school.
As required by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Illinois State Board of Education, face coverings must be worn by students at all times while inside the building, except when eating or drinking. *Per IDPH guidelines updated August 13, neck gaiters/athletic neck warmers are not acceptable forms of face coverings. All other cloth or medical face coverings are permitted.
Your child is expected to come to school with a face mask each day. If you do not have a mask for your child, please contact your school office. If your child qualifies for a face covering medical exemption, a physician’s note must be on file with the school's main office.
Other Health Considerations
Please be aware that the revised IDPH health and safety guidelines require that siblings/household members of symptomatic individuals must also be excluded from in-person learning until a negative COVID-19 test or physician’s note with alternative diagnosis is provided. This is the case even if a sibling/household member is not showing any symptoms of illness.
If the symptomatic person does not seek diagnostic testing or a clinical evaluation, he or she AND all household members must stay home from school for 10 days.
While our goal remains to return to in-person instruction and continue forward with our rolling reentry plan, we are tracking a number of indicators to provide us with data to make the most informed decisions possible as to whether our timeline can be adhered to. The following health and operational variables will be considered when determining if the District needs to modify its plans to hold in-person learning at the District, school or classroom level.
Variables Impacting Continuation of In-Person Learning
Number of COVID-19 cases within District 15 zip codes (60004, 60005, 60008, 60010, 60067, 60074, 60173) is at or exceeding 100 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day period.
The positivity rate within District 15 zip codes is at or exceeding 8 percent.
Number of Positive Cases and Subsequent Exclusion
Two or more exclusionary situations (i.e. confirmed positives that require quarantining of additional staff and/or students) in a building within a 2-week period.
Number of Staff Absences Due to COVID-like illness
High numbers of staff absenteeism due to symptomatic isolation or close contact outside of the district. Metrics for this data point will depend upon if the staff member is able to work remotely and how many available substitutes there are on any given day (this number fluctuates daily).
In-person learning closures could be short or long-term, and will depend on the specific circumstance at hand. In most cases, these decisions will be made under the direction of the Cook County Health Department and range from temporary closure for cleaning and disinfection to a more extended closure if case-to-case transmission is present.
No Virtual Learning Friday, September 18
Should the district need to re-evaluate the return to in-person learning, we will communicate with you as soon as that information becomes available. We look forward to seeing many of our students in the classroom again very soon!
Your partner in education,
Dr. Laurie Heinz
Superintendent of Schools