Updates & Information SY2021-22

Update: Sept. 14, 2021

We are experiencing some positive tests and while minimal, 4 positive cases as of today from all students and staff, we are seeing consistent symptoms in those who are testing positive.  The most common symptoms are a runny nose and cough, occasionally this is also associated with a low-grade fever.  As we approach the harvest season, a runny nose and cough are easily associated with allergies and can easily be written off.  Please be conscious of the evolving symptoms and realize that it appears to be more relevant to our younger students in the district, where last year, we saw more incidence in our high school students.   Thank you all for your effort in keeping symptomatic students at home and getting them tested.  We know it is inconvenient, but it is the most important thing we can do to keep your students in our classrooms.  Thank you for the effort that makes all of this possible.

 

Update: Sept. 13, 2021

Quarantine vs Isolation

 

We've had several questions recently as we continue to navigate the implications of COVID-19 and the proactive effort to remain in school.  What we have found through conversation is that people are not always certain about their return to school date.  While we recognize that the McLean County Health Department has the ability to override our local protocols, our goal is to keep healthy students in classrooms as much as possible.  Keep this in mind, Isolation applies to a positive test and Quarantine applies to a close contact.

 

General Principles to Follow

  • If I am symptomatic but do not test positive, return to school when you have been without symptoms for 24 hours.

Simplest thought, if I don't feel well, stay home, if it could be COVID, get tested, if it's not COVID, come back to school when I feel better.

  • If I am symptomatic and do test positive, isolate for 10 days from the first day of symptoms and if symptom free, then return to school on the 11th day.
  • If I am never symptomatic but test positive (likely because I was identified as a close contact otherwise why would I test if not symptomatic), isolate for 10 days from the day of my test and return to school on the 11th day.

Simplest thought, if I test positive, I'm home for 10 days and return on the 11th day assuming I feel better

  • If I am a close contact, we have three choices in the quarantine procedures. 1) Quarantine for 14 days and return on the 15th day, or 2) Quarantine for 10 days and return on the 11th but monitor for symptoms until the 14th day, or 3) Quarantine for 7 days, take a PCR test on day 6, and if negative then return to school on day 8, while continuing to monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days.

Simplest thought, if I am a close contact to a positive, I can return to school after 10 days without having a test or after 7 days but have to have a negative PCR test to return to school

 

Update: Aug. 23, 2021

Simple reminder: We have had a few students demonstrating COVID-19 symptoms and parents continue to be incredibly helpful by keeping them home, then having them tested and reporting to the school.  If you have not been a close contact to a positive case but are just demonstrating symptoms, you may return to school when you have had a negative test and are symptom free.  Keep in mind, if you are demonstrating symptoms of any illness, staying home until you are not symptomatic is the best way for our students and staff to remain healthy.

It is a close contact and those testing positive that have defined periods of quarantine.  The Family Resource guide which is available through our social media presence has a step by step process and explanation for the quarantine expectations. 

 

Update: Aug. 18, 2021

Being in Level 3 Mitigations makes some things much easier.  If a student is symptomatic and then were to test positive, except in a really unusual situation, there are no close contacts at school and so no contact tracing necessary within the school.  Based upon the criteria in the "Public Health Guidance for School," if contact occurs outdoors that is not a close contact or if masks are being worn indoors that is not a close contact.  In Level 3 mitigations, those are the only two descriptors of student interaction at school.

In Level 3, if your child has COVID symptoms, they need to be tested.  If the test is negative, they come back to school when they've been symptom free for 24 hours.  If the test is positive, your child must stay home for 10 days after the on-set of symptoms and return to school on the 11th day if they are symptom free. 

In Level 3, if you are a close contact to someone who is positive, you must wait 5 days and be tested on the 6th day or test immediately if symptoms present.  If that test comes back negative, you can return to school on the 8th day.  If the test comes back positive, you must go back to the first day of symptoms or the first day of exposure whichever were later and quarantine for 10-days, returning to school on the 11th day, if symptom free.

When you report an illness to the office, if the illness is related to COVID-19, you will get an email from the district office that will share with you the links outlining the necessary procedures.  Those resources will also be available through our social media at any time and on our website linked through the "Learning in LeRoy" tile of "From the Superintendent's Desk."

 

Update: Aug 6, 2021

On July 9, 2021, Dr. Carmen I. Ayala outlined the 5 key points listed below for school districts to consider this fall: 

  1. Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated: 

  2. Emphasizing layered prevention strategies (masks, distancing, testing) to protect students and staff that are not fully vaccinated;

  3. Masking is universally required on buses and school-related transportation. The CDC’s order requires that regardless of the mask policy at school, passengers and drivers must wear a mask on school buses. (This protocol may change if circumstances around public transportation change)

  4. Monitoring community COVID-19 transmission and vaccination rates to guide local decisions on layered prevention strategies during the school year (i.e. strengthening or loosening of certain mitigation procedures);

  5. Monitoring CDC/IDPH guidance changes on prevention strategies as the school year progresses.

 

In the CDC guidance released on July 9 and even in the update on July 27, there was a recognition that what is happening at your feet matters and should help drive the mitigation efforts for an individual school district.  The plan that was drafted by the LeRoy School District recognized the need for a “leveled” strategy of response.  As the incidence of COVID-19 were to increase in our County or Community, there may be a need for a more comprehensive approach to mitigations inclusive of masks.  As we have stated several times in our communication, we believe that the best decisions are made closest to home.  We recognize that even in our “leveled” approach there would be no point where we would have 100% agreement on the strategy or the mitigation, but we do believe that the ability to recognize the local conditions and respond accordingly would be, even if reluctantly, accepted by the community.  We believe that the plan developed for the SY2021-22 has been strongly influenced by the input of our community and the actual lived experience of our district last year.  

 

The mandate that was made on August 4, 2021 by Governor Pritzker is inconsistent with the guidance of the CDC.  The CDC stated that localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies.  A critical point of very specific relevance to this situation, the Emergency Order that gives the Governor the authority to make mandates is still in effect and as a result the agency can compel our action.

 

To be completely clear, masking as a mitigation strategy is a part of our plan, the only difference between the Governors’ mandate and our plan is that we were willing to monitor the data in McLean County and in our school community to determine the intensity of our mitigation efforts.  His approach is to universally apply masks as a mitigation strategy in all schools regardless of the local conditions related to COVID-19.

 

Because of the emergency order, the Governor can compel our action.  As he said in his press conference yesterday, any district that does not fully comply with his mandate can be sued and have their recognition status revoked.  While we may prevail in a lawsuit, the cost to fight it would have to come from operating funds and the nature of his order limits our Tort Immunity(see the letter from our insurance carrier at the bottom of this post).  The revocation of our recognition could cost the district as much as $3M.  It is simply not fiscally responsible for us to ignore those two statements made by the Governor.  As a result, we will comply with the Governors’ mandate to require masks for all persons inside our instructional spaces.

 

We believe the strategy explained in our Learning in LeRoy document is appropriate, that it recognizes the expectations of our community, and that it is firmly based on the lived experience of last year that allowed for a full year of in-person learning.  We recognize the contradictions created by agencies and the frustrations that exist because of these inconsistencies. We remain respectful of the positions taken by all parties in this complex situation. If you have a position that you feel should be shared, the School District is not the point of contact that can impact the mandate or future mandates.  We would encourage you to communicate with your statewide elected officials, whether those are messages of support or concern, they are the people responsible for statewide policy.  As stated on the evening in which we approved our plan, we all need to become better at dialogue and disagreement.  We encourage anyone who communicates with our statewide elected officials to do so in a manner that encourages them to engage with you in a conversation, to see your position, and to work with you to solve a problem.

 

 

We remain committed to our two principles of keeping our students in classrooms and providing space for our families to live their life as necessary.  Our primary objective is to serve our students first and foremost, they are the reason we exist.

 

We will have another great year and will do it together.  Let’s remember who we are and not allow ourselves to be defined by others. It’s a good day to be a Panther!

 


 

Announcement from the Illinois State Board of Education

Dear Colleagues: 

Governor JB Pritzker announced an Executive Order today that supports safe in-person learning and requires that masks be worn indoors by all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strengthened its guidance last week for universal indoor masking in schools, and Illinois will continue to follow the science, data, and public health experts to keep students in school and keep communities safe. We know that consistent and correct mask use is the simplest, most effective way to keep students safely in school, where they can learn and grow to their fullest potential.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and ISBE will issue updated guidance to reflect this change. For more information, I encourage you to watch the Governor’s press conference.  

All schools in the state of Illinois also now have access to free COVID-19 screening testing through the IDPH. Learn more from IDPH.

For our students, families, and educators who are eligible, vaccination remains the best protection against further spread. Vaccination is effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death and is effective against the Delta variant. As trusted leaders in your communities, I urge you to continue to promote and provide opportunities for your staff, families, and eligible students to receive the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine. A multitude of resources to help you share about vaccination opportunities are available at www.isbe.net/covid19.  

 

Sincerely,  

Dr. Carmen I. Ayala

State Superintendent of Education

Illinois State Board of Education

 

 


 

Should we be concerned about the liability associated with a failure to follow the Governors’ mandate?  Here is the notice from our insurance carrier.

 

Dear PSIC Members,

 

As reported by a number of media outlets throughout the morning, Governor Pritzker confirmed this afternoon the issuance of a universal mask mandate for all Pre-K thru 12 schools to further enforce the CDC’s guidance issued last week.

Gov. Pritzker Announces Mask Mandate for All Illinois Schools This Fall

The mandate requires students, teachers and visitors of schools (regardless of vaccination status) to wear a face covering while indoors. In addition to the school day the Governor advised masks would be required for indoor sports and activities. Outdoor sports and activities were not included in the mandate and remain at a district’s discretion which should take into account transmission levels in the respective community.

As the Governor noted, adjustments to this mandate will inevitably occur with significant factors being the availability of a vaccine for those 12 years of age & under and updated CDC guidance; however for the time being the decision to mask or not has been taken out of individual districts’ hands.

While it likely goes without saying, we will confirm prudent risk management guidance would be to follow the Governor’s mandate and require masks in all of your school district facilities. Failure to adhere to a universal mask mandate at this time would foreseeably in danger a district’s Tort Immunities as it regards protection against COVID related legal allegations.

As always, we would encourage each of you to continue seeking counsel from your district’s respective legal firms as you look to finalize policies/procedures for what again looks to be another not so normal school year.

Should you have any questions on the above please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or another member of our Gallagher PSIC Team.

 

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.

Michael McHugh

Area Senior Executive Vice President

 

 

Lessons Learned Last Year that are Good Practice

Let’s not forget that before COVID we have had several occasions where we considered deep cleaning over a weekend or closing school for a couple of days because of something spreading through our schools.  There are some key practices that we were more attentive to because of COVID that we believe will have a positive impact on our student wellness and their attendance regardless of a global pandemic.  We will remain committed to the following protocols.

  • A commitment to remaining home when we don’t feel well helps us reduce the transmission of illness and keeps more students and teachers at school more often.

  • Attention to hand hygiene makes a difference in the overall wellness of our staff and students.

  • The additional cleaning protocols, especially our UVC lights, help in reducing the potential of transmission of bacterias and viruses.

  • The availability of touchless water fountains and sinks help in reducing the potential of transmission of bacterias and viruses.