Henry Hawk News

Week of March 14, 2022

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A Message From The Principal

Dear Henry Hawk Families

We want to thank you for your support and flexibility during this last month while Mr. Gutierrez was out of the building. We are so grateful for each and every one of you for adjusting and supporting our Henry community. Welcome back Mr. Gutierrez!

Beginning Monday, March 14, CPS will be moving to a mask-optional model for all students and staff. We know that this may be a big change for some families. The following points may be helpful as you discuss the new Optional Masking Policy with your child.

  • Helpful points to provide context:

    • COVID-19 cases in Chicago and in CPS schools have gone down over the past month.

    • Far fewer people are getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying because of COVID-19.

    • CPS is doing more COVID testing in schools than ever, and more staff and students are getting vaccinated.

    • Based on this data, the Chicago Department of Public Health has removed the mask mandate for indoor public spaces.

    • CPS still recommends masking for all students and staff.

  • Whether or not you choose to wear a mask:

    • This is the choice that’s right for our family. Other families might make a different choice.

    • Some staff and students feel more safe and comfortable wearing masks and will continue to do so while others will choose to take their mask off.

    • Do not bully or judge other students or staff for their choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask.

    • Everyone’s choice is deeply personal and should be respected.

    • You may have the opportunity to share how you feel about this new policy with your teacher and classmates. I also want to be sure you have the opportunity to talk about your feelings with me.

  • Consider discussing some of the following questions with your child:

    • What has been our family policy about wearing a mask in public? How has this changed? What is our family policy now?

    • How do you feel about wearing a mask in school now? How has this changed?

    • What will it be like for you to wear a mask or not wear a mask?

    • What will it be like if your classmates make a different choice than you?

    • Who can you go to for help in school if you are feeling worried or concerned?

    • Each student and staff member will be able to choose whether they wear a mask or not: How can you advocate for yourself so that you feel safe and supported in wearing a mask or not wearing a mask?

    • What can you do to help others feel safe and supported with their choice?

Please refer to The Office of Social Emotional Learning’s Restorative Practices Toolkit for Parents for additional guidance about how to talk about feelings and have difficult discussions at home.

Please remember that if your child tests positive for COVID-19, please complete the self report on the following link: https://chicagopsprod.service-now.com/health?id=cps_self_report

As always, we will continue working to provide your children with a safe, healthy learning environment where they can reach their full potential.

March Upcoming Dates:

Wear Green for St. Patrick's Day: Thursday, March 17th

Drop-In Go CPS 1st Round High School Offers: Friday, March 18th

Parent Assistance with Go CPS: Monday March 21st 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

LSC Candidate Forum: Week of March 21st (Date/Time TBD)

COVID-19 Vaccination (2nd Dose): Monday, March

IAR Testing: Week of March 29th and April 4th

BAC Meeting: March 29th @ 3:30 pm

Last Day of 3rd Quarter: Thursday, April 7th

School Improvement Day (No Classes): Friday, April 8th

Spring Break: Monday, April 11th through Friday, April 15th

Fourth Quarter Begins: Monday, April 17th

What's New?

Mask Optional Model (NEW!)

Sign Up for Covid Testing at Henry

Earlier this week, CPS announced that starting on Monday, March 14, all CPS schools will move to a mask-optional model for students and staff. CPS will still encourage the use of masks, and I strongly encourage anyone who feels more comfortable with a mask to proudly keep it on!

I know this may be a big change for our school community. This change is not something to celebrate. It’s also not something that we need to be afraid of. It’s simply the next phase in our nearly two-year journey with the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s worth celebrating is the fact that we are now at a point in this pandemic where far fewer people are getting sick, ending up in the hospital, or losing their lives to COVID-19. Regardless of how we feel about masks, I think we can all agree that this is welcome news.

A Decision Based on Science

Our District would not be taking this step unless our public health partners and our numbers were telling us that it’s a safe option for our schools. Here are some of those numbers at a glance:

  • We’re doing more testing than ever in CPS schools — 64,000 tests per week — and our COVID positivity rate is now 0.11 percent. That’s seven times lower than the rate for the City of Chicago, which is now considered low risk under CDC guidelines.

  • More than 90 percent of CPS staff and nearly half of all age-eligible students are now fully vaccinated.

  • The District’s weekly case numbers are the lowest they’ve been since the first week of this school year, and there are fewer individuals working or learning from home than at any point this year.

Watching our Data Carefully

CPS was the first large school district to implement universal masking, and we are the last of the three largest districts in the country to move to a mask-optional model. We have been extremely cautious throughout the pandemic, and we will continue to be. CPS has assured families that the District will not hesitate to require masks again if Chicago sees another surge in COVID cases.

A Promise of Respect

I know that some of you are anxious about what school will look like for your children on Monday. Will they be teased if they choose — or need — to wear a mask? And if they choose not to wear one, will they be judged? I want to assure you that neither behavior will be tolerated in our classrooms. In our school community, there must be a culture of empathy and understanding where every person’s choice is respected and where our students know positivity and peace. Our staff works hard every day to promote that culture, and we will continue to do that, especially now. We have been a united community throughout the pandemic, and this shift to a mask-optional model will not change that.

Talking to Your Children About This Change

As parents and guardians, you are the primary educators of your children, and you will have a key role in guiding our students through this transition. Please take some time to talk to your kids about what to expect on Monday, and about how important it is that they be supportive of their peers, even if the choice those students are making differs from their own. We need our students to understand that what is right for one family might not be right for another, and that either choice should be met with kindness and respect.

Embracing Cautious Optimism

It’s true that masks will be optional as of Monday, but our other COVID-19 mitigations, including school-based testing, contact tracing, and our push for more vaccinations will stay firmly in place and will remain a top priority at school. In addition, masks will still be required in certain circumstances, including when students or staff are returning from learning or working at home due to exposure or a positive COVID-19 test.

Please know that whatever your decision about masks, we will do everything possible to ensure your child feels safe, supported, and valued during this upcoming transition. I thank you for your partnership and encourage you to stay in contact with me and your child’s teachers to help us understand how we can best meet their needs.

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Sign Up for Covid Testing By Clicking Here

Testing Tuesday, February 9th, COVID-19 Testing will be taking place at Henry from 1:00 pm to 3:15 pm. If you have not registered previously, please register in the link above.

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Patrick Henry School

Stay Well,

Mr. Gutierrez, Ms. Reynolds, and Mrs. Abraham

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