COVID & Define 109 Update

January 14, 2022

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DPS 109 families,

We are closing in on the end of another school week, and I’m happy to report that we enjoyed a much better week than last week. We have a significantly higher number of students and staff back in our buildings and have seen our positive cases (through SHIELD or other means) drop off. It’s both a great relief and very welcome news.

This is where we need to stay vigilant, especially with a 3-day weekend ahead. It bears repeating that we need to be prepared to ride the COVID roller coaster in January. I encourage you and your family to get vaccinated, get your booster shots, and to get tested if you experience symptoms or become a close contact of a positive case. The evidence is overwhelming at this point that vaccination is the surest way to keep our kids safe. We’d also like to reiterate that if one of your children tests positive, please keep siblings home until or unless they test negative. While guidance states that vaccinated siblings can come to school, our experience with the Omicron variant is that all of the kids get it if one gets it. Please see below for some important COVID-related updates and answers to questions we have received.

Thank you for your partnership and dedication towards DPS 109 and public education here in Deerfield. Enjoy the long weekend and we look forward to seeing everyone on Tuesday!


Michael V. Simeck

Superintendent of Schools

NOTE: In the initial version of the above letter that went out, I stated that Lurie reported this week that 3% of school-aged students with COVID experience serious health consequences. Upon further review, I stated that wrong. The correct statement should read "When kids presented themselves to the emergency department, 3% developed a severe outcome." Context matters, and I apologize for the oversight.

New ISBE/IDPH Guidance

This week, schools received updated public health guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). One big change is that individuals must be masked “when indoors and outdoors for days 6 through 10 for an asymptomatic person returning from five days of isolation, quarantine, or exclusion, or for 10 days for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, who were exposed to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.” Our contact tracing team will work with families to make them aware of this change. Click below to read the IDPH FAQ.

Extracurricular Update

Activities have largely resumed this week, and athletic competitions will resume next week. As a reminder, all participants must have a signed consent form and take part in SHIELD testing. Middle school families, you can find the consent form in today’s Spartan Weekly Update or Caruso Connect. Elementary families, this applies to a limited number of people, so your principal has reached out already if you’re in that group.

Vaccine Disclosure Form - Help Us Avoid Unnecessary Quarantines!

This has come up a few times this week! We have had to call a few families and let them know that their child, who is a close contact, would not be able to come to school that day because we didn’t have vaccination info on file for them. As it turns out, some of them didn’t realize they could submit it online. Help our contact tracing team out and save yourself some stress by completing this optional form in Family Access.

Sign Up For SHIELD Testing - Regardless of Vaccination Status

In a world where COVID testing is hard to come by, free SHIELD testing is offered weekly to all students and staff at DPS 109 schools! Test results are generally reported within 48 hours. You will only be contacted with a positive result. To opt in to SHIELD testing, please log in to Family Access below to fill out the consent form.

Why can't we SHIELD test twice a week?

Due to increased demand across the state for Shield testing, it’s not possible for SHIELD Illinois to test in our buildings twice a week.

Do we need a negative test to come back to school from quarantine?

No, this is not required by the health department. While we would prefer to offer testing to those returning from quarantine, it would severely strain the supply of tests we have available across the district. Those returning from quarantine will fill out the daily health certifications, which can help our nurses determine if they qualify for the drive-thru testing offered after school.

Why did we not require a negative test prior to the start of school last week?

Unlike last year when we offered a remote option, this year we cannot require testing for all students. We understand why mandatory testing seems an obvious mitigation; however, we must continue to encourage parents/guardians strongly to have their children participate in SHIELD testing as districts cannot mandate participation.

Why is there no remote option this year?

Again, unlike last year, there is no remote option for students. ISBE essentially defined school this year as in-person instruction. Districts are not permitted this year to offer remote instruction except for certain specific and severe health-related reasons.
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Define 109 Update - ThoughtExchange Results from December

Our Define 109 process of refreshing our mission & vision for the district is ready to turn the corner towards the next step.

Next Friday, the Board of Education will hold a study session from 12-4 p.m. at the District Office to hear information from Eklund Consulting about the focus groups and data they have collected from students, staff, and the community as it pertains to refreshing our mission and vision, and participating in group work to help begin shaping an initial draft of DPS 109's mission and vision. There will be no formal action taken at the study session.

Below, take a look at the information YOU provided through our ThoughtExchange question posed in December:

If the goal is to produce students who are resilient problem solvers, who are understanding of and work well with others, and who possess critical thinking skills, describe in what ways the schools could be cultivating those traits in our students at school, at home, and in the community?

A word cloud created from the data:

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Top themes by mention frequency:

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