Viking Newsletter

Jim Calabrese, Superintendent, Taft SD 90

January 11, 2022

Update from Mr. Calabrese

First, I wanted to thank everyone for the time I needed to learn, understand, and develop our plan with how to implement the newest guidance. While we have been hearing about the changes for a few weeks I want to be clear that schools received the newest guidance on Friday morning with an updated FAQ page coming after the district office closed. While I know this is an extremely pressing matter, at the end of the day I wanted to make sure I fully thought out the implications of updating our protocols which always includes talking things through with our staff, Board of Education, my superintendent colleagues, as well other professionals that I rely on to help me make informed decisions.


I also needed to see what yesterday would look like in terms of our number of current COVID cases, students who were in quarantine due to school exposures (sports practices over break), students in quarantine due to out-of-school exposures, as well as our general attendance. Based on yesterday's data we had 18.2% of our students absent for various reasons. Of those students eight reported as being positive for COVID, three were in quarantine due to exposure to a sports-related activity over break, and four were in quarantine due to exposures that happened outside of school. Today's attendance rate improved to 14.8%.

Taft's Updated Protocols

As we all know the COVID-19 guidelines and protocols for public schools have been ever-changing since the beginning of the pandemic. Even with the most recent guidance, we are still waiting for more specific wording from the State of Illinois, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Illinois State Board of Education so there could be further changes to our newest protocols. Based on all of our information the following information is how Taft SD 90 will be implementing COVID-19 protocols moving forward.


All students who are positive for COVID-19 will be excluded from school for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status. Students may return to school after their 10-day exclusion provided they are asymptomatic. If they continue exhibiting symptoms they may return to school when they become asymptomatic. For the purposes of calculating the 10-day exclusion, the onset of symptoms or the positive COVID-19 test for asymptomatic students will be considered Day 0. The student will then be excluded from school for 10 days and be eligible to return to school on Day 11.


Students who are not fully vaccinated and who have had exposure to COVID-19 will be excluded from school for five (5) days provided they remain asymptomatic. If the student becomes symptomatic at any point during the following 10 days they will be considered probable for COVID-19 and will begin the 10-day exclusion period from school with Day 0 being their first day with symptoms. The students would then follow the 10-day exclusion protocols outlined above. Vaccinated students who have had exposure to a person positive with COVID-19 will not need to quarantine provided they remain symptom-free.


Both the CDC and IDPH have provided general guidance that needs to be applied at the local level based on the needs of the individual schools. Based on our data I believe beginning with the protocols outlined above is in the best interest of our students. Keeping students who are positive for COVID-19 out of school for the full 10 days while they are still contagious makes the most sense for our school. Allowing students who may have been exposed to COVID-19 back after five (5) days provided they are asymptomatic also makes sense and begins to ease the burden of missing school for a prolonged period of time-based on an exposure that may not lead to a positive COVID-19 test.


We will revisit these protocols on a monthly basis or as new guidance is provided to schools. With the high positivity rate in our community, state, and country our protocols try to keep our students as safe as possible yet attempt to try to get students back into the building as quickly as possible.

SHIELD Testing Survey

So far we have only had 36 individuals complete the 2 question SHIELD Testing Survey below. I would greatly appreciate it if those families who have not yet taken the survey can find a few, short minutes to provide us with their preferences.

New Guidance Documents

Please see the two documents and the two button links below which contain information that was provided to schools on Friday. We are still working to analyze the new protocols for quarantine and isolation, so will need a little time to determine how to implement them within our school building. Until that time we will still be following the "old" quarantine and isolation rules. When a change is made we will update our community before we implement them.

Strategic Planning

At our Regular Meeting of the Board of Education in December our Board of Education approved a recommendation on a contract for an educational consultant to lead the district through a strategic planning process beginning in late March. The strategic planning process is an opportunity for our Board of Education, staff, and community to come together and set the priorities for our district for the next several years. As we begin to finalize the process and the dates with the consultant we will be providing our community with more details about how to get more involved.


Please be on the lookout for more information and please strongly consider becoming involved in this process. Like every district, our district has its own set of strengths and challenges. Going through this process and developing a plan will be critically important for us to move forward and set up a process for continuous improvement. I could not be more grateful to the Board of Education for acting on this recommendation or be more excited to finally get this process underway.

StopIT

Taft is proud to have the “Stop It” program up and running for the 2021-2022 school year. Stop it is an online program that students can use to report bullying or any unsafe behavior while remaining anonymous. These reports come through to the Superintendent, Principal, and Social Worker via text so we can address the situation right away. This provides the student with an opportunity to share their concerns if they feel they cannot speak immediately to an adult.


We continue to teach our students to advocate for themselves in situations where they feel they can speak to a situation on their own. The students are reminded there are different approaches to stop bullying or unsafe situations outside of reporting things anonymously. Students are encouraged to share concerns with friends, staff, and family to learn to advocate for themselves. However, we understand that there are some situations where students may feel safer reporting discreetly.


If you have any questions regarding the Stop It program, please contact Mr. Davini or Mr. Calabrese.


STOPit Student Launch Video

Market Day is Back!

Taft's PTA is once again working with Market Day to provide our families with the opportunities to order from Market Day and help raise money for our PTA. All orders will be delivered directly to your house and the PTA will make 10% off of each order. The order is open all year long so families can order as much as they would like. Our PTA is excited to be able to offer Market Day to our families.

School Calendar

1/11/22 - Policy Committee Meeting - 5:00 PM - Superintendent's Office

1/12/22 - Boys Basketball v. Monge - 4:15 PM

1/12/22- Bilingual Committee Meeting - 4:15 - Library

1/13/22- Boys Basketball v. Dirksen - 4:15 P

1/17/22 - No School - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

1/18/22 - Boys Basketball v. Fairmont - 4:15 PM

1/20/22 - Regular Board of Education Meeting - 6:15 PM