School Reopening Update

July 31, 2020

109 Online Virtual Learning Program

Our educational team is working hard implementing the rollout of the 109 Online virtual learning program and is set to welcome students on the first day of school on August 19th. We want to reiterate that the virtual learning curriculum will be significantly different than it was in the spring during the emergency closing. Click here to watch a new video explaining the 109 Online program.

Student-Teacher Meet and Greet/Materials Pickup

We are pleased to announce that students will have the opportunity to meet their teachers at the beginning of the school year. In our elementary schools, classroom teachers will have scheduled times for small groups of their students to come to school on the afternoons of Wednesday, August 19 and Thursday, August 20. They will meet outside in small groups. Building principals will create a schedule and assign places to meet so it is safe for all. In our middle schools, a meet and greet is anticipated, but due to the large number of students involved, the details are being worked out. Building principals will email more information in the coming weeks as the logistics are finalized. We will also be scheduling materials and device pickup at all six schools prior to the first day of school and will reach back out when that date is scheduled.

Extensive Planning Is In Place

Following the Board’s approval, our administrative team is refining our reopening plans so that we can re-introduce students to the classroom as soon as possible. Our Reopening Committee put thousands of hours into extensive planning over the summer to prepare for a variety of scenarios ranging from full virtual to full in-person learning. See the full work of the committee here in this 46-page scenario document. The health & safety protocols recommended by the IDPH have already been extensively researched (lunch protocols, bathroom breaks, passing periods, etc.) and will be used during this school year as we work to quickly guide students back into school.


That extensive planning will allow us to begin some in-person learning in the next few weeks for our students who receive special education services (unless the family has requested full virtual learning).

IDPH Guidance and Restrictions on School

We also wanted to better explain some of the challenges we face bringing students back and the severe disruption it could cause to their learning by strictly following guidance we have been given. The updated Illinois Department of Public Health Guidance stipulates that schools must adhere to the following procedures when symptoms are exhibited and cases emerge. --
Part 1: You must send home or deny entry if ANY one of the following symptoms are present:
Fever (100.4 or higher)
Fatigue
Muscle or body aches
Headache
Shortness of breath
Cough
Sore throat
Congestion or runny nose
New loss of sense of taste or smell
Nausea
Vomiting
Diarrhea
Abdominal pain
Part 2: Has the person been clinically evaluated by a healthcare provider?

If the answer is Yes and they tested positive = stay at home at least 10 days from onset of symptoms AND for 24 hours with no fever (without fever-reducing medication) AND improvement of other symptoms (whichever is longer)

If they received an Alternate Diagnosis: Follow providers' directions–physician's note needed for re-entry

If the answer is No: If any of the symptoms are present, must stay at home for 10 days from onset AND 24 hours with no fever without fever reducing medication (whichever is longer). Testing for COVID is recommended but would not be required.

Additionally, students and staff that have close contact with someone with Covid-19 must also remain home for 14 days after the contact. Close contact is defined as exposure of 15 minutes or longer within a 6 foot proximity.


It should be noted that contact tracing through the Lake County Health Department is an extensive process and that we have been informed that the average turnaround time for results is currently 7 days.

Disruption of learning schedules is a near-certainty right now in person.

Anyone who exhibits any of the above mentioned symptoms: (Fever if 100.4 or higher, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, new loss of sense of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain) will need to be out for at least 10 days if there isn’t a change in IDPH guidance. Anyone exposed to COVID-19 must be out for 14 days. This could mean that entire classrooms of students and staff will see periods where they must quarantine.

It is highly likely that the majority of students and staff will have at least one of these symptoms, whether related to a COVID-19 diagnosis or not, during the upcoming school year and following IDPH protocol, we will be required to have them stay home for 10 days. This will be a severe and unexpected disruption to their learning.

School Re-Entry Task Force

But we must keep moving forward. As the Board of Education directed on Monday, a School Re-Entry Task Force is being assembled to determine, monitor, and evaluate the evolving health and safety conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.


MEMBERSHIP: The task force shall be comprised of individuals representing the following stakeholder groups: parents, staff, Board of Education members, administrators, public health experts, privately licensed doctors and/or first responders.

HOW TO JOIN: Those interested in being considered for the School Re-Entry task force should fill out this form by 12 p.m. on Tuesday, August 4th. It asks for some identifying information so we can determine which stakeholder group you belong to, and in 100 words or less, demonstrate the value or expertise you would provide. This task force will meet (either virtually or in person) at least once a week starting on August 10th. Selection will be made by Thursday, August 6th.
MEETING/ORGANIZATION TIMELINE:

1) The task force will have their first weekly meeting on Monday, August 10th from 3-5 p.m. via Zoom. This will be an important first meeting to establish the organization and determine their weekly meeting schedule moving forward. Their first written update summarizing this meeting will be sent to the Board of Education by Friday, August 14. This update will also be sent out in a community-wide email.

2) Subsequent weekly updates will be sent to the Board and the community in writing by each following Friday.

3) The task force will deliver their first in-person update to the Board of Education at their Monday, August 24th regular meeting.

4) This task force will continue to meet on a weekly basis until all students that elect to return to in-person instruction are back in school. On the first meeting of each month, the task force shall re-evaluate if the weekly frequency of their meetings needs to be scaled up or down.


COMMUNICATION FROM THE TASK FORCE: Community and staff members will be emailed a weekly update from the task force summarizing any changes in guidance and re-entry status. You can expect the first update by Friday, August 14. The weekly updates will also be housed on a separate task force page in the COVID-19 Updates section of the District 109 website. This page will be created once the task force is established.

COMMUNICATION TO THE TASK FORCE: There will be an email address where members of the public can share thoughts, ideas, and concerns with the Re-Entry Task Force. This will be activated once the task force is formed.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know there are still many questions out there, and we invite you to check out our School Reopening FAQ that was just updated today on our website to see if your question has been answered.

We Are In This Together

As we stated in our message earlier this week, we must face this challenge together. This task force will tap into the collective strength of this community. We all want what is best for the children of Deerfield and must work together with grace, kindness, and respect to find compromise on the myriad issues some may disagree on with this challenge of reopening school. Our students are watching us and will someday learn about how we handled this historic pandemic, and it is our sincere hope that they can be proud of the work that the District 109 community did to support them in these formative years.