News from CCSD15
October 30, 2020
A Message from Superintendent Laurie Heinz
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Happy Halloween! What an exciting week it has been with our first elementary District Spirit Week. This was a fun way to unite our school district including both in person and virtual learners. Thanks to everyone who participated!
We have completed another month of learning and are finding it hard to believe that November is fast approaching. Despite the numerous challenges COVID continues to present, the first trimester has flown by. Once again, I thank you for your continued support and understanding as we work harder than ever to deliver quality instruction through this very challenging time.
ELEMENTARY SPIRIT WEEK!
We continue to monitor COVID-19 metrics both in the community and within our own school buildings. As we are seeing around the country, the number of cases - both in our communities and in our schools - are on the rise.
Collectively across our District 15 zip codes, the positivity rate has climbed to 7.82 percent, with the number of new cases (7-day) per 100,000 population at 237. The positivity rate is within the “moderate” category and case rate is considered “substantial” by the IDPH. The positivity rate across all of our zip codes ranges from 5.16 percent to 12.5 percent.
Although we are closely watching the metrics within our own zip codes, The Cook County Department of Public Health cautions against over reliance on what they call “hyperlocal data.”
“We advise against over-reliance on hyperlocal data, such as zip code data. Hyperlocal data, by definition, are not reflective of the risks to faculty and staff who may live outside a school’s catchment area (that may be the focus of hyperlocal data). Additionally, in hyperlocal areas with small numbers of cases, weight given to percent changes may be exaggerated even if they are mathematically correct. Further, atypical events (e.g., a one-day testing drive or event) can have a significant, temporary effect on trends that are not reflective of true risk in the community.”
We will not hesitate to take additional Adaptive Pauses at the classroom, building or District level when necessary. This decision is not politically-driven, but based on our desire to reduce the spread of COVID 19 within our schools. As I have continuously recommended, please have your contingency plans in place should a closure occur at the classroom, building or District level. Often, these decisions are made with little advance notification due to the nature of the virus.
COOK COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDANCE
Unlike neighboring counties Lake, DuPage and McHenry, the Cook County Department of Public Health has not directed or recommended that schools close for in person instruction. They are currently leaving that decision up to local control, while offering guidelines to determine if continuing in-person learning is safe to continue.
We are in daily contact with the CCDPH and collaborate with them regarding each and every COVID-19 positive case in our schools. With their guidance, we have implemented Adaptive Pauses at the classroom and building levels as necessary. We will continue to work in collaboration with our local health partners when making future decisions related to COVID-19 and our schools.
STAFF AND COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITY
District 15 has stringent mitigation efforts in place, including maintaining 6-feet of distance between desks, mandatory face coverings and frequent hand washing protocols. That said, no matter how thorough our in-school mitigation efforts are, we need your cooperation maintaining safety protocols when outside of the classroom setting if we want to be able to continue with in-person learning.
Through contact tracing positive cases within our schools, many close contacts have been identified because of playdates, lunch dates, youth sports, parties, carpools and other activities bringing people within close proximity of one other. This not only increases the number of staff and students who must be excluded from school for an extended period of time, but also increases the number of COVID-19 cases occurring in our community.
Additionally, I need your support in adhering to the IDPH health and safety guidelines that require students and staff to remain home when experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Too often we are seeing individuals come to school symptomatic which is putting our community at risk of infection.
I am asking for your partnership in recommitting your efforts to adhere to social distancing recommendations in order to reduce the chances of bringing the virus into our schools. Should the amount of in-school transmission, level of school exclusion or community transmission become untenable, we will be forced to implement an Adaptive Pause on a larger scale.
Thank you for your help in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the District 15 community. Your support and cooperation in adhering to state guidelines is critical to the health and safety of our students and staff.
Your partner in education,
IDPH CHANGES COVID TESTING PROTOCOLS
On October 13, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) changed what COVID diagnostic test results schools may accept when a student is symptomatic, eliminating antigen (Ag) tests from the list. On October 21, they changed this guidance, allowing antigen test results to be used for students and staff as long as the person is not a close contact to a positive case or there is not an “outbreak” in the school. The revised guidance is available online (column B row 5).
Additionally, please be aware that the IDPH requires that all household members (page 1, column D, row 5) be excluded from school if even one person is symptomatic. All household members must stay home until one of the three conditions above is satisfied.
DEPRESSION AWARENESS AND PREVENTION PROGRAM
Parents of District 15 junior high students - please join us for a parent education night on Thursday, November 5 for this year's Depression Awareness and Prevention (DAP) program, formerly known as SOS. The virtual event will be held from 7-8:30 p.m.
This event will be held on Zoom. All materials will be posted on the District 15 website in English and Spanish.
Meeting ID: 896 5659 4001
NO MEAL DELIVERY NOVEMBER 2-3
There will not be meal delivery provided on Monday, November 2 or Tuesday, November 3 when school is not in session.
As a reminder, all student meals are FREE through the end of December. A meal delivery schedule and menu are available on our website.