Greetings ESD Families!
Happy New Year! We have made it through another year of COVID-19.
This message comes amid an extreme increase in the number of persons, especially children contracting the COVID-19 the Omicron variant. We have been monitoring the latest data to help prioritize the health and safety of our staff and students. According to scientist, Omicron is more transmissible than any other variant. While potentially less severe, the Omicron variant is fast moving and more contagious. The variant spreads 3-4 times quickly as the Delta variant, which was considered the most contagious version of the virus a couple of months ago.
Since COVID-19 remains an imminent threat to public health and a substantial portion of our student population remains unvaccinated, our schools will continue to follow the original CDC and IDPH guidelines. We will resume school on Thursday, January 6, 2022 with heighten health and safety protocols. Despite the uptick in numbers, we will welcome back students for in-person learning with the following protocols in place:
- Implementing a Back-to-School Testing Plan to keep our in-person learning programs safe. Parents who wish to opt-out of the testing program must complete and submit the following ESD159 Illinois OPT-OUT Form by Wednesday, January 5, 2022: https://forms.gle/awV5o1gi191dALt29
- o We encourage every parent, guardian, and staff person to submit a new consent form due to us using a new testing agency, Prosperity Cares.
- To minimize staff and students' risk of COVID -19 exposure, we are providing a Rapid and PCR nasal swab test to everyone that completes the following portal link consent form for testing: https://ods.rymedi.com/#/registration-form?irbuuid=f6ebf237-f705-48cf-adf8-d65866dcc6fc
- o Negative Results: The staff and students remain in school.
- o Positive Results: A confirmed positive case will be sent to the Isolation Room and parent/guardian will be notified immediately.
- o Student’s or staff will be sent home.
- o The PCR test will be sent to the lab for processing. It will take 24-48 hours (about 2 days) to be returned.
- o A positive individual must isolate for a full 14 days (about 2 weeks) from the initial testing date.
- o We are providing at-home testing kits for students and staff to test before returning after being quarantine. We will dispense the home antigen tests kits at the time of quarantine and only to those staff members or students being quarantined.
- Students that tested positive and sent home are expected to engage in virtual learning for the duration of their quarantine period unless, they are ill.
- Close contacts will participate in our Test to Stay Program. Students will test on day 1, 3, 5, and 7. If the results are negative each time they may remain in school.
- Crisis Go COVID-19 screening program will be reinstated for students until further notice. Staff is also required to complete the Crisis Go each morning.
- We will be strongly enforcing physical distancing and face masking that covers the nose and mouth.
- Limited movement throughout the school will be permitted.
- Until the positivity rate declines, we will offer COVID testing two days a week.
ESD 159 vaccination rate for our students is extremely low. We are urging families to get their eligible students vaccinated. According to the science, vaccines are considered the best mitigation strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. A vaccine is now available for ages 5 and up.
In closing, as we continue to work on prevention and developing more mitigating factors to support healthy and safe schools, we are proud to announce that our second Vaccine and Testing Clinic will be hosted on January 8, 2022 from 9:00 AM until Noon at Colin Powell Middle School. Please enter through door # 8. If you received your first vaccine dose during the Saturday, December 18th event, we encourage you to return on the 8th for your second dose. All students and family members are welcome.
As always, thank you for your commitment to our school community. We will continue to keep you apprised of changes in our COVID -19 procedures as we make them. As a school community, we will weather this storm together.
With great appreciation,
Dr. Mable A. Alfred
Superintendent of School