COVID-19 Updates & Information SY2020-21
School Year 2020-21 Updates and Information
November 17 Update
With the increasing demand being placed on the McLean County Health Department, there is a reasonable assumption to be made that they will not be able to efficiently communicate with every positive case or every close contact. As we have all been living with this virus and the associated protocols for several months, we are all becoming more able to understand and respond appropriately. While there is uniqueness to every situation, here are the general procedures that we should all know.
- If I test positive for COVID 19, I should be isolated for 10 days after the onset of symptoms.
- I notice a loss of *taste on November 17.
- I report that I am sick and stay home.
- I get tested on November 19.
- I get my results and they are positive on November 20.
- I am isolated 10 days from November 17 through November 27 and can return to school on November 28, as long as I am fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medicine and symptoms are resolving.
- *Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation
- If I test positive for COVID 19 because I was exposed but was never symptomatic, I should be isolated for 10 days after the positive test results.
- I was a close contact on November 17.
- I report that I was a close contact and stay home.
- I wait 5 days post exposure to be tested, November 22.
- I get my results and they are positive on November 24.
- I am isolated 10 days from November 22 through December 2 and can return to school on December 3. (If no symptoms develop during that 10-day time period)
- If symptoms develop at any time during the 10-day isolation period, I am isolated 10 days from the onset of symptoms. For example: I wake up with a sore throat and cough on November 26. I am isolated for 10 days from November 26 through December 6 and may return to school on December 7, as long as I am fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medicine and symptoms are resolving.
- If I am a close contact to a positive but am not symptomatic and do not test positive
- I was a close contact on November 17.
- I report that I was a close contact and stay home.
- I wait 5 days post exposure to be tested, November 22.
- I get my results and they are negative on November 24.
- I am isolated 14 days from November 17 through December 1 and can return to school on December 2.
November 16 Update
Update from the MCHD: McLean County Health Department is reporting 507 new cases of COVID-19, bringing our total of probable and confirmed cases to 6,723. Fifteen McLean County residents are hospitalized due to COVID with zero McLean County residents currently in Intensive Care due to COVID. Our local hospitals are reporting 75% of ICU beds in use and 24% of total beds are available. Today we are reporting 5,119 individuals released from isolation and are considered recovered. More than 119,100 tests have been resulted for a cumulative positivity rate of 5.6% The rolling 7-day positivity rate is 13.7% through 11/15/2020.
We will continue to monitor the availability of hospital beds as it is one of key data points. Our region remains at 37.2% availablity but there should be an update to that data point by the middle of this week.
November 13 Update
There has been a lot of information moving around the State about what is next for schools. We thought it best to share some information, some beliefs, and some reminders. While you may be getting tired of hearing this, you have to know that we believe your commitment to the daily wellness check, keeping students at home and seeking a test when they are sick, and accepting the inconvenience of keeping secondary contacts at home until the close contact presents a negative test has allowed us to maintain our continuity of instruction.
It is our intention to remain in school and execute according to the plans that we have shared. We have two major metrics that guide our decisions; 1) internal positivity rate and 2) hospital bed availability. There are schools that are going to revert to a hybrid model or go fully remote around the holidays. At this point, that is not our intention. We are going to follow the plan as we have shared. If those two metrics become a concern, we will execute our 3-week remote plan as we have provided in our “Return to School” document. If we have an isolated challenge with a particular grade level or struggle to staff our classes because of quarantines, we will execute according to our “Targeted Remote Learning Plan” as we did earlier this year at the High School. But, if the Governor decides to force schools into a shutdown we will work in the best interest of our families to provide the necessary access to on-going learning through our remote platform.
- COVID Impact in LeRoy CUSD#2 as of November 11, 2020
- 405 Students Impacted- missed at least one day of school because of something related to COVID. Symptomatic, Exposed, Positive, Exposed to someone Exposed
- 133 Students- Secondary Contacts that were not tested
- 257 Students- Exposed to a positive or symptomatic and returned a negative test
- 15 Students- Exposed to a positive or symptomatic and returned a positive test
- 0 Students- close contacts to a positive at school who returned a positive test
- 87 Staff Impacted- missed at least one day of school because of something related to COVID. Symptomatic, Exposed, Positive, Exposed to someone Exposed
- 32 Staff- Secondary Contacts that were not tested
- 48 Staff- Exposed to a positive or symptomatic and returned a negative test
- 7 Staff- Exposed to a positive or symptomatic and returned a positive test
- 2 Staff- close contacts to a positive at school who returned a positive test
- We believe that teaching and learning best occurs when our staff and students engage at school.
- We believe in the personal responsibility of our community and families to facilitate a commitment to a daily check of wellness and to respond accordingly.
- With our commitment to protocols for masks, social distancing, hand hygiene, and cleaning, we believe that our schools are one of the best places for our students.
- We believe that we must continue to advocate for our students. They deserve the opportunity to experience all that school has to offer and whenever possible, we must engage in an effort to ensure they have access to those opportunities.
- It remains true that what we know today could change tomorrow.
- We will continue to share information transparently.
- We will overcome the challenges as a school and community
Thank you all for your continued support and your patience throughout these first few months.
October 16 Update
Just in time for Cold and Flu Season, we are finally getting our UVC disinfection machines delivered. It is our hope that the timing of this additional layer of cleaning protocol will help us most effectively navigate the compounding impact of the cold & flu season on the current challenges with COVID-19. Please read the newsletter that we have put together in partnership with R-Zero: Meet ARC!
We are expecting delivery by the end of next week and our maintenance staff is schedule for training on October 26th. It is our plan to be using them as a part of our protocols on a daily basis by the first of November.
October 5 Update
We feel confident in our operational capacity after the first several weeks and have been reassured in the commitment of our school community to the daily wellness of each student. Because of the experience over our first several weeks, we would like to encourage our “at-Home” enrolled students to consider enrollment “at-School.” To be clear, we have had positive cases and we have had to quarantine students and staff. While not perfect, we do believe that the best educational experience is facilitated in our classrooms. We had originally intended to have our “at-Home” enrollees remain on the Edmentum platform for the entire first semester, but we have committed to allowing students to transition back to our classrooms at the 9-week mark. The second quarter begins Monday, October 19. If you are interested in transitioning back, please contact your building administrator by Monday, October 12.
We were informed last week that we are eligible through the Federal COVID Relief Grant to provide a "first meal" to all students through the Federally subsidized breakfast/lunch program. We have retroactively, back to September 1, 2020, put lunch and breakfast fees back into student accounts. There will be no charge associated with our school breakfast or lunch program through the end of 2020. "First Meal" simply means that every student is entitled to one breakfast and one lunch as a part of the subsidized program. A second meal would be charged as normal.
September 17 Update
We have committed throughout this process to be as agile as necessary. Meaning, that as we see the variable in front of us change then we will respond in a manner that gives us the greatest opportunity to meet our commitments to our students and our community. We continue to see our role as essential to allow our families to live a life necessary to provide for their families, so we need to be in school if at all possible. We are committed to providing to our students all the joy and opportunity that comes from going to school. As we explained in our parent letter, we saw that there may be a need/opportunity to respond to isolated COVID challenges in a manner allowing us to keep the majority of our students in school, while still flattening the quarantine curve. We saw a need to respond based upon a variable that was unanticipated in August. Living inside this reality is much different that planning for this reality. We are so appreciative of the resiliency of our students, staff, and community. To this point, the targeted remote learning plan has had the desired impact.
Below are some of the questions that have been asked as a result of the decision.
Q: Why Remote Learning in the HS and not the whole district?
A: We had a spike in positive COVID cases specifically in our high school. Those positive cases led to approximately 25 students going into a 14 day quarantine because they were deemed close contacts to a positive case. The unknown full extent of exposure of our close contacts gave cause for concern. If a large number of the close contacts became positive, they would need to be contact traced to students who were still in our building. Based on contact tracing of our current positive cases, we believe most of our close contacts will know their test results by Friday. The decision to go to short term remote learning in the HS is our effort to help flatten the curve of exposure, quarantine, and positive cases in our building.
Q:Why not Remote Learning in the JH?
A: While our JH and HS students cross paths at times, they are not in situations that would create close contacts. We currently do not have any positive cases in the JH.
Q: Why are students out for 14 days for being a close contact, but their sibling may not be out or may only be out for a few days?
A: If a student is a close contact to a positive individual, their sibling is not a close contact to that individual. The sibling would be considered a secondary contact and based on IDPH guidelines would not be required to quarantine or test. We do give parents the option and recommend siblings stay home and test. If the secondary contact is not symptomatic, the health department recommends testing 5 days after exposure. Many are doing that and then when the sibling (secondary contact) is negative, they are sent back to school.
Q: What is a close contact?
A: A close contact is defined as a person who is within 6 feet of a positive person for 15 minutes or more while masked or unmasked.
September 14 Update
We had been planning on the development of a "Targeted Remote Learning Plan" that could be used once we were in the middle of the cold and flu season. The intention of such a plan was to allow us to respond to an isolated COVID challenge without having to shut down our entire district. Considerations were given to an outbreak in an elementary grade level of students alone without much impact to other areas of the school or a significant impact to our staff but no real impact to students. Our thinking was that with the similar symptoms of the cold, flu, and COVID there could me more absenteeism with precautionary quarantines than we could reasonably handle and still provide a continuity of education.
2020 has taught us that it's good to plan but you may need to implement sooner than you anticipated. That is the case today. We have had a measurable increase in postive cases and close contacts in our high school so we are going to execute on the plan that last week was in development. Below are the links to the letter that was emailed to all parents today and the outline of a Short-Term Remote Learning Plan. We encourage you to read them both but in general, our 9-12 students will not be in attendance tomorrow except for our LIFE students. Our 9-12 Students will begin remote learning on Wednesday for the rest of the week. All other students PK-8 and Right Start will see no change in their attendance.
Thank you for understanding and your ongoing cooperation with our COVID 19 prevention policies and procedures as we work to help protect your children, your families, and our staff and their families. We are taking this one day at a time with our primary goals of maintaining a continuity of learning and a standard of predictability for our families.
September 10 Update
Part of our intentional practice throughout the COVID experience has been to minimize the potential of a definable close contact. Remember that a close contact is defined as being within 6 feet for 15 minutes masked or unmasked. We have tried to align our classrooms so that the potential of extended time within the 6 feet of social distancing is minimized. We have been especially intentional about orienting our faculty so that the student-adult social distancing is optimized as much as possible. The younger the students, the more difficult this is.
We've had our first confirmed adult case in our district. Upon contact tracing and following the MCHD protocols for that practice, it was determined that the faculty member did not have close contact with any other faculty member or student. The class size, seating charts and orientation of the classroom made all the difference in making this process both efficient and effective. While we are hopeful that we experience few positive cases, it is clear that with an airborne virus, each day will be a challenge. Everyone’s commitment to being attentive to their wellness, responding quickly and communicating with our district has been incredibly helpful to our ability to manage an effective response.
September 9 Update
Everyone has been great in exercising an abundance of caution when symptoms present themselves. There is no question that it has been the biggest key to our first three weeks. As we continue to move forward and as we enter the cold, flu, and allergy seasons, we fully expect students to be out for precautionary reasons and we expect that we will be able to get their school work to them in such a way that they do not fall behind. Our biggest concern right now is for our faculty, they and their children are also in the midst of cold, flu, and allergy season. Our faculty, just like our students have been great about staying home when they do not feel well or may have had some exposure to COVID-19, but in doing so, we may not have enough teachers to facilitate the instruction necessary, especially if there are 10 to 14-day periods of absence.
- Short term 2-week default to remote learning. We would have some choices in this scenario. We could execute the remote learning for only our 7-12 students and keep our PK-6 students and Special Education Students "in-School." We could also execute the district wide remote learning plan which already exists. As we develop this contingency plan, we will communicate what it could look like.
- Deploy technology that would allow teachers quarantined at home to teach back to their classroom.
This is very much a "building the plane while flying it" situation. We continue to develop contingency plans for a variety of unknown scenarios. We will continue to keep our school community updated as the situation changes and as we all know by now; the situation can change rapidly.
September 4 Update
First Major Contact Tracing Event
On September 3 we experienced our first major contact tracing event. We would like to provide some insight into what that means and how our staff and families have responded. For the most part, our students have quarantined due to exposure to a college age sibling or friend, a parent who has tested positive, or because they are symptomatic and are awaiting test results. This week, we had our first positive case with a student. The protocols that we have in place help us to quickly identify any students who are potentially impacted as close contacts; but as you should expect, as a small community our students are involved in so many things outside of school whether it be church, clubs, or just neighborhood friends playing on the weekend.
We really need to compliment our parents, they have been incredibly helpful and responsive during the events of the past 24 hours. We think it is important for any of you who have not experienced the direct challenges with COVID to understand what it might feel like. Throughout this process, our Nurse (Mrs. Edmundson, firstname.lastname@example.org) is our primary contact and any COVID related illness/exposure within our school community should be communicated to her. She will work directly with our families to assist in navigating the response. In the event that the need is significant, our administrators will assist in the process, but Mrs. Edmundson will oversee all of our internal tracking and communication related to COVID.
“Student A” has “close contact” with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
That student quarantines for 14 days from the date of exposure regardless of test results. Final timelines are communicated through the McLean County Health Department.
That student has a COVID-19 test on the 5th day after exposure. If the student were having symptoms, they could test immediately.
In working with the student and the parents, we begin the proactive contact tracing and start to communicate with parents whose children may have been a “close contact” with the quarantined student.
At this point, every step is precautionary, there is only a possible secondary exposure, meaning those that we are contact tracing have not yet been confirmed to be exposed to a positive case. Our parents have proactively quarantined the child potentially exposed and any siblings. This response has been incredibly helpful and without question the most responsible action.
At this point, these students should monitor for symptoms and await the test results of “Student A.” Results are typically returning within 3 days.
If the test results for “Student A” are negative, now there has been no exposure to a positive case and the student and siblings may return to school.
If the test results for “Student A” are positive, the student/family will be notified that they are a “close contact” and must quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure regardless of test results. Final timelines are communicated through the McLean County Health Department.
At this point, the siblings may or may not have to be quarantined. Most parents to this point have chosen to proactively quarantine the siblings, but while the “close contact” must quarantine, they could be tested and the process above would repeat for the siblings.
Key things to remember:
Definition of “Close Contact”- within 6’ for at least 15 minutes with or without a mask of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
If you are a close contact to a positive case, you must be quarantined for 14 days from the date of exposure regardless of test results. Final timelines are communicated through the McLean County Health Department.
Nobody sets out to give or get COVID-19, it is an airborne virus and will transmit from person to person, be attentive to social distancing, hand hygiene, and communicate with our school nurse even in uncertainty.
Sources of COVID-19 are going to exist outside the school system. Be attentive to any possible exposure through church, clubs, outside organizations, or parents work environment.
Each situation is a little different, but there is a general response that is fairly predictable. Posted on our “Wellness and Illness” page, there is an IDPH Quick Reference document that provides a good outline. The McLean County Health Department is taking on a really challenging task but have been good in their engagement with our school system and our families.
We post the status of COVID in our district on a daily basis and then provide a week ending summary on our District Dashboard under Wellness Reporting. You can see how many we have that are Reporting Symptomatic, Reporting Exposure, Testing Positive, Quarantined, and Eligible to Return.
September 3 Update
We had posted earliery in August this concern, but it has continued to happen in various districts throughout the State: If a staff member or student is tested for COVID-19, they should stay home until they get confirmation of a negative test, and in the event that they get a positive test then follow the appropriate protocols. If someone is concerned enough to get a test, whether because of symptoms or possible exposure, we need them to also be willing to stay home until they get the results of the test.
An increase in cases is being reported in McLean County. We participate in a bi-weekly call with the Health Department to assess the status within the County and any concerns that they may have. Based upon the summary of the meeting yesterday, we are expecting that the warning status in McLean County will go up and may enter an overall warning status. We have metrics in place that guide our decisions and the countywide data is a key element. The countywide metric that is most significant to our decision has to do with the ICU bed availability. We will keep you informed as the data in McLean County continues to evolve, but the best opportunity to maintain our continuity of learning is to be committed to the wellness in our community.
September 2 Update
We have been really fortunate so far this year. We have not had a positive case within our buildings yet, but it is certainly reasonable to expect that it could happen. The commitment of our families has made all the difference in the effort to keep students home who don't feel well, that difference can't be understated to what is has done to allow our current reality. We would like our school community to be aware that our staff has been working to prepare for the potential of remote learning, while we continue to hope for 175 days of uninterrupted instruction, we do not want to be unprepared. The other aspect of this that we would like to share is that we believe in doing this work, we are going to be far better prepared to evolve in providing better instructional opportunities for students even in the absence of COVID. Our goal is not only to prepare, but to be better. Thank you to everyone that is working to make this a year of great outcomes for our students and our community.
August 28 Update
As has become expected in 2020, our UV-C units have run into some production issues. The production plant has been evacuated due to the fires in California. The shipping date has been pushed back but at this point the exact date is unknown.
August 23 Update
We expect to send out a weekly communication on Sunday through our email notification system in order to keep our school community updated.
There are three tiles on the District Webpage that are being used to keep our families informed throughout the current COVID-19 environment.
COVID Related Updates
Some challenges for other districts have been created by students returning to school while a test was still pending, only to find out after attending school that they had tested positive. If you are tested, you should remain at home until you get confirmation of a negative test.
Parents have done a great job of being attentive to the wellness check. We have had a few students demonstrating symptoms most like a cold. As we know, these symptoms are similar to those consistent with COVID. Parents chose to keep their children home, pending the test, and once negative the children were able to return to school. While not the most convenient, this is exactly what we have to do in order to stay in school this year. Thank you!
It was a really good first few days and great to see everyone back in our buildings.
Reminder: Stay committed to the everyday wellness check in order to give us the greatest opportunity to stay in school and provide 175 days of in-person instruction and all the activities that are a part of going to school.
August 21 Update
- Our wellness dashboard is available as a means of keeping up to date with the impact of COVID on our students and staff. There is a link avaialbe on the Illness & Wellness tile.
- We had a couple of staff members who were around an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, but our staff members were not defined as being in "close contact" with the individual. We are grateful for our staff being proactive in communicating with the district and we have taken a proactive step of having those staff members tested. The MCHD did not determine that it was necessary to have them tested but we felt the extra precaution would help put everyone at ease.
- We've had three really good days and it has been wonderful to see our buildings with kids in them again. Thank you to all of our familes and our staff for such a wonderful attitude to start the year.
August 20 Update
A couple of items learned from our first day of attendance.
- With increased reservations about congregating on a bus, more families are transporting their students. That is requiring a change in drop off procedures are the Elementary. Our staff has done a great job of finding and communicating a solution and our parents have been incredibly helpful and patient in adjusting.
- We had feedback from another school district sharing a concern they've experienced, if a staff member or student is tested for COVID-19, they should stay home until they get confirmation of a negative test, and in the event that they get a positive test then follow the appropriate protocols. Apparently, some students from that district returned to school while waiting for their results, then two days later found out they were positive. As you can imagine, that created some challenges.
- An increase in cases is being reported in McLean County. We participate in a bi-weekly call with the Health Department to assess the status within the County and any concerns that they may have. It makes sense that with the college students returning, we will likely see an increase in cases. It should also make sense that as our K-12 schools reopen and we appeal to parents to be attentive to the wellness of their children that we will see an increase in the # of school age children being tested and likely the positve cases. We are developing a dashboard to report what is going on in our school system so that you can be informed, and there are links to the McLean County Dashboard in our "what do I do if" document that can be found on the Wellness & Illness tile.
August 18 Update
School is set to open tomorrow and will most certainly be the most unique opening day for public schools that we’ve experienced in a very long time. We ask everyone to realize that our challenges and opportunities are unique to the LeRoy School System. It may not work for us to respond as other districts or for other districts to respond as we have. We intend to follow our plan as we have communicated it and allow it to guide our decision making process.
We would encourage everyone to stay connected to these updates as we progress through the year. Here is the current summary of information that we would like everyone in our school community to consider.
Guiding Principles to Our Response
We believe that the best means of teaching happens through direct instruction between teachers and students, and we believe that the best means of education happens when our students, staff, and families are engaged with one another.
In person instruction is where students have the greatest potential to learn both from the teacher and from their interaction with peers.
Those students most susceptible to learning gaps are most vulnerable to on-line learning.
We believe that we have a responsibility to serve our community and families so that they can live the life necessary to provide for their individual needs.
Whether parents are having to go to work or are working from home, those parents still need to work. If we only allow remote learning, we make that reality very challenging.
Students being in school creates the predictability necessary for parents to plan on a daily basis.
We believe that every family should have a choice that makes them the most confident and provides an opportunity that they see as manageable given the structure of their life.
The virus does create a degree of uncertainty and families need the flexibility to fit their needs. We believe that our partnership with Edmentum provides those families the greatest flexibility to respond to their individual circumstance.
We are committed to supporting those families who have selected “at Home” enrollment with two specific staff members for technology support and procedural assistance. We are committed to our early dismissal to ensure access points for students who may need assistance with an individual lesson.
Dealing with Wellness & Illness
As a school community, we must commit to the daily wellness check. When we do not feel well, we need to stay home. The most common question we have gotten about the wellness check: “these symptoms are so similar to seasonal allergies and the common cold, how do we know what we should do?” There is a delicate balance between overreacting and underreacting. After 6-months of dealing with this virus, we know that it impacts everyone in a different way. If a fever is present, we should stay home until the fever is gone. The fever should be gone for 24 hours, without having to use medication to reduce the fever. We would also encourage everyone, who is subject to seasonal allergies especially, to have a proactive conversation with their family doctor about how to best differentiate between what is typical at this time of the year and symptoms of the virus. The current IDPH guidelines prescribe exclusion for any symptom of COVID-19. It is in the best interest of our students to have a plan for the seasonal cough or stuffy nose, but that needs to be addressed between families and physicians so that documentation can be provided to the school.
Given that this is an airborne virus, we have to anticipate that we will have a positive case inside our buildings. We will work with the McLean County Health Department (MCHD) to communicate with families and facilitate the necessary contact tracing where relevant. We will also work with the MCHD to respond to an increase in positive cases either in our buildings or in McLean County. There is a document being released today that should assist our school community in navigating the process from symptom or exposure to the return to school.
Flexibility in the Final Choice
We are excited about the commitment of our families to return to “at School” instruction and we are hopeful that we are able to make the most of every day without disruption. We think it is fair for our students and parents to have some uncertainty about what the 2020-21 School Year is actually going to feel like once in the buildings. We are going to extend your opportunity to enroll in “at Home” learning until the end of the school day on August 28. We want each family to make the best choice for their individual situation.
August 14 Update
We have made a significant commitment to our cleaning protocols. In order to provide an additional layer of protection for our staff and students, we have partnered with R-Zero to utilize UV-C light technology in order to deploy a hospital grade disinfection technology. This technology will allow not only a nightly routine for cleaning but also a quick and tactical response in the event of a student or staff member demonstrating symptoms while at school. We expect to have this equipment in our buildings by September 10th but R-Zero is working to try to expedite the delivery. Below are some excerpts from our correspondance with R-Zero.
Information from R-Zero
UV-C scientific efficiency and safety:
The UV-C spectrum is proven to inactivate viruses, including coronavirus, bacteria, molds and many human pathogens. The proven power of UV-C as a germicide works as follows: High-energy, short wavelength UV-C light works by invading microorganisms, disrupting vital cell functions and preventing reproduction and the ability to infect. UV-C light is an eco-friendly disinfection solution, without the use of chemicals or pesticides, and is safe to use around food, plants, furniture and electronics. To be extra safe, we advise that humans do not have direct exposure to it (for best-practice safety procedures, our units have movement and heat sensors that automatically stop the cycles before anyone can be impacted by the effects of the UV-C light).
We have over-engineered the UV-C units to make them much more powerful than those of competitors. We've ran some lab testing for our units and the conclusions were excellent and proved the above mentioned. This makes our units much more efficient than those of our competitors as we create safer spaces with shorter UV-C cycles, improving your disinfection productivity.
R-Zero infection prevention expertise:
With the support of Dr. Wade as their Chief Scientist. Dr. Wade has over 43 years of infection prevention experience, and is a leading expert in Toxicology, Risk Assessment, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Risk Management, Microbiological and Chemical Contamination. Dr. Wade spent 4 years as the Deputy Chief of Cal/OSHA, and has taught at Oxford, Harvard, and UC Irvine. His accolades are numerous: he's been the recipient of the American Public Health Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, named a Rockefeller Fellow and American Institute of Chemistry Fellow, and is an elected associate of the National Academy of Sciences where he's served on the Naval Studies Board. Dr. Wade received his doctorate in environmental health sciences and masters in public health from the University of Michigan, and completed his post graduate training at Harvard and Oxford. There are very few, if any, infection prevention professionals in existence that are as qualified as Dr. Wade.
August 13 Update
We have previously stated that in our current environment, “what might be true on Monday may no longer be true by Thursday.” That statement has certainly held true this week. There have been a couple of changes in the past couple days that our school community should know. We have told you that we would do our best to be agile as things change and be as transparent as allowable.
- There was a recent study done by Duke University about face coverings and the effectiveness of different types. We are linking an article from the Washington Post so you can see the essence of the story. The study calls into question the effectiveness of athletic neck gaiters as an appropriate face covering. You will see in the article that those who manufacture these neck gaiters suggest there are some gaps in the study that don’t fully account for varying types. This matters to us because we are set to pass out neck gaiters to all of our students and staff this evening and throughout next week. We will still pass them out and they may end up being a really cool headband or a way to keep the sun off your neck while working outside, but at this time, we looked at the CDC guidance for making your own mask and it identifies the use of a layered t-shirt material as a reasonable DIY mask. The gaiters that we are passing out are long enough to be rolled into 2-ply, making them more consistent with the DIY guidelines. We will also be passing out cloth facemasks this evening as well as once school begins. It is not completely clear whether our neck gaiters are like those they tested or whether what is considered a cloth facemask is significantly different that what we are providing. The most reasonable consideration with the gaiters that we are providing, if that is what you choose to use, would be to layer it in a manner similar to the CDC’s design concept for a DIY mask.
- CDC Post on their site: CDC does not recommend use of athletic face coverings/neck warmers as a substitute for cloth face coverings.
- IDPH has recently shifted their position on spectators at outdoor school athletic contests. They are now requiring spectators to wear mask regardless of social distancing. The IESA and the IHSA have modified their guidance accordingly and that is now the expectation of spectators at school sponsored activities. We recognize the contradiction and hope that you understand we have to exist in the midst of many contradictions that are simply beyond our control. It remains a fascinating time to be unable to make decisions that are fully in alignment with what we are required to do outside the school environment. Please understand that we are committed to dealing with the frustration and inconvenience so long as it allows a better experience for our student/athletes.
- There are two questions that show up in the newest Q&A that seem contradictory.
- Question: How many symptoms does a person need to have to be considered suspect COVID-19?
- Answer: Students and staff exhibiting one or more COVID-like symptoms should be immediately isolated, and evaluated. Schools should evaluate each student/staff to determine if this symptom is new or if it is part of an existing condition for this student/staff.
- Question: If the sick person has a known condition causing the symptoms, e.g., allergies, migraine, etc., can this be taken into consideration?
- Answer: Every symptomatic person should be evaluated by their healthcare provider on a case-by-case basis and decisions to test for COVID-19 should be based on their personal health history.
- Concern: Given the time of year, it is common for any of us to demonstrate symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 list. We think it is important to look at both of these answers together. If seasonal allergies are a typical part of your fall, you should be aware and pay attention and not ignore the possibility that it could be COVID in disguise, while at the same time being fully aware of what is “normal” in this season. Most of us throughout this have likely coughed or been around someone who is coughing and wondered, “is that COVID-19.” We have to be sensible and responsible throughout this cold and allergy season.
- Commit to a wellness check every morning.
- Be aware of your normal pattern of wellness given the season.
- When somethings not right, be cautious rather than ignore it.
- Communicate with your health care provider and the school so we can best monitor and respond to the wellness of our school community.
- Question: How many symptoms does a person need to have to be considered suspect COVID-19?
August 12 Update
The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools- July 23 post by the CDC
Schools are an important part of the infrastructure of our communities, as they provide safe, supportive learning environments for students, employ teachers and other staff, and enable parents, guardians, and caregivers to work. Schools also provide critical services that help meet the needs of children and families, especially those who are disadvantaged, through supporting the development of social and emotional skills, creating a safe environment for learning, identifying and addressing neglect and abuse, fulfilling nutritional needs, and facilitating physical activity. School closure disrupts the delivery of in-person instruction and critical services to children and families, which has negative individual and societal ramifications. The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children, at least in areas with low community transmission, and suggests that children are unlikely to be major drivers of the spread of the virus. Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets—our children—while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families.
Link to the full article: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/reopening-schools.html
August 11 Update
68 students have enrolled in “at Home” learning for the Fall of 2020, which means we have a little more than 90% of our students who will be enrolled “at School.” Given the uncertainty that we are all experiencing, we will allow students to enroll in “at Home” up to the end of the school day on August 28, 2020. We are encouraged by the commitment of our families to have their children enroll in “at School” learning for the 2020-21 school year, but we also recognize that there is clearly a degree of uneasiness for many at this time. We think it is fair to allow our students to experience what school is going to look like and feel like before fully committing to their “at School” enrollment. If you make the decision to migrate to "at Home" prior to August 28th, please contact your building office staff and they will assist you in the enrollment process.
We have continuously communicated that we understand and respect the position taken by our families on both sides of this enrollment choice. We recognize and assume that after 6 months of dealing with this airborne virus that everyone knows there is no absolute certainty in eliminating the transmission. We are committed to working as best we can to mitigate risk, but our effort is only as good as the execution of our people. There is some degree of inconvenience for everyone in our effort to provide a continuity of instruction throughout the year, but we have to mutually commit to that inconvenience in order to get through this year.
We need our staff to adhere to protocols established for opening, our students to wash their hands and wear their masks, and everyone to commit to a daily assessment of wellness. We recognize the potential that we will have people within our school community who will test positive, or who will be proactively quarantined. We accept the reality of those inconveniences and are committed to work to overcome them in the best way possible that provides for the most appropriate educational experience for our students and the most predictable environment for our parents.
There is nothing that we can’t overcome through the strength of our commitment and willingness to act in the best interest of others. Let’s be LeRoy Strong through this remarkable time.
August 4 Update
We released our survey today to determine which families will choose "at Home" enrollment. Only those making that selection will need to respond to the survey. Anyone not responding will default into "at School" enrollment. The links below are our updated plan documents and an information packet regarding the Edmentum platform for "at Home" enrollment. We encourage all families to review the documents in order to make the best enrollment decision for your student.
Our goal is to have 175 days of in the classroom instruction available for all of our students, to have our kids participate in athletics and co-curriculars, to take field trips at the end of the year and to walk across the stage at graduation in front of a gym full of people. For that to have the greatest potential of being our reality, 1) we need to commit to a daily wellness check and stay home when we do not feel well, 2) wear a mask consistent with the guidelines, 3) socially distance whenever possible, and 4) wash our hands frequently.
We are looking forward to August 19 and seeing our students in classrooms again!
July 30 Update
- A lot of news came out yesterday related to our public schools and the next school year. Governor Pritzker released his position on scholastic and recreational sports given the current conditions in the State. The IHSA and the IESA have or are in the process of responding to that guidance. You should expect information to be coming out from our athletic departments in the next few days. We are hoping that this is also an indication of optimism from the Governor that we will be able get school started without any delays this fall.
- Our July 23 Survey Data
- 341 Families Responded
- 76% will enroll "at-school" with masks mandated or encouraged/allowable
- 7% believe there are currently too many unknowns with the virus and will enroll "at-home"
- 6% will enroll "at-home" if masks are not mandated
- 5% will enroll "at-home" if masks are mandated
- 6% provided other miscellaneous responses reflective of all of the positions listed above
- On Tuesday August 4, we will release a survey asking parents if they intend to enroll "at-home." Only those who expect to enroll in the "at-home" option will need to respond to the survey. Anyone who does not respond for "at-home" enrollment will default to "at-school" enrollment. As you make your decision about the most appropriate enrollment option for your family, we wanted to provide some clarifying points. These are based upon agency guidance, staff feedback, and parent questions. It is not intended to be an all-inclusive list but rather a highlighted list to address some common concerns and questions from staff and parents.
- Our principles of operation are guided by the CDC, the IDPH, and the AAP
- We are relying on the commitment of parents to do a daily wellness check of their children before sending them to school.
- Masks will be mandatory, but we will work within the guidelines of the CDC, IDPH, and AAP to provide the opportunity for reasonable mask breaks for our students.
- Students medically unable to wear a mask will be asked to wear a face shield; if that is also not possible, we will convene a 504 meeting to develop an appropriate plan to respond in the best interest of the student and the building protocols.
- The orientation of classroom desks will minimize any direct line between two students to increase, to the degree possible, the social distancing in our classrooms.
- Signage will be used to emphasize appropriate hand hygiene protocols, social distancing, and directional flow of students to minimize congregation.
- Locker usage and passing periods are being modified to the degree possible to minimize the congregation of students.
- We will be using a "grab and go" strategy for food service to minimize the points of contact and to maximize the usable space throughout our buildings for lunch.
- Cohorts are being used as a strategy, to the degree possible, throughout the district.
- We will not be using locker rooms for our Physical Education classes other than as a restroom when necessary.
- Our drinking fountains are being converted to bottle filling stations to minimize contact.
- We are minimizing access of visitors to our buildings. Any visitor will be required to wear a mask and certify a wellness check before gaining access to the main body of our building.
- Families that select "at-home" enrollment will be contacted to schedule an appointment with the Guidance Counselor, Building Principal, or the "at-home" support staff.
- A couple of key principles to remember about selecting the "at-home" enrollment option:
- Edmentum will be the Third Party provider that we have listed in our plan document. https://www.edmentum.com/
- The district will have staff specifically available throughout the day to assist parents and students with technical challenges associated with the platform, but to be very clear, Edmentum will be providing the classroom instruction.
- Our early dismissal schedule is designed to provide an hour at the end of the day for students to check for understanding and get feedback from their classroom teacher or content area teacher. Students will also be able to schedule appointments during the planning time of our staff for assistance.
- While we feel that Edmentum is a good product, it does not fully replace the quality of instruction that takes place in the classroom on a daily basis. It will require more independence on the part of the student and time from parents at home on a daily basis.
- The guidelines as provided by the Illinois State Board of Education for "at-home" enrollment requires daily attendance, accountability of grades, and a full schedule of classes. Our remote learning approach to "core focused" content last spring did not have the same requirements or accountability that is expected by the State agency this year. This will be a more comprehensive and time intensive option than remote learning last spring.
- The selection for "at-home" will run for the entire first semester.
- Questions: Mrs. Edmundson- email@example.com
- CDC Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- IDPH Website: http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus
- WHO Website: https://www.who.int/
- Questions: Mrs. Levingston- firstname.lastname@example.org