A Welcome Message from the Superintendent
August 17, 2021
To all District 47 families:
We are excited to welcome students back to our schools on August 18th! Over the summer, we’ve been working to create a return-to-school plan that prioritizes a safe and healthy environment for in-person learning for all students. Masks are required for all students and staff (vaccinated and unvaccinated) when inside school buildings per Gov. Pritzker’s Executive Order. Two additional and important mitigation strategies we’ve added for the 2021-22 school year include air purifiers and a new COVID-19 screening testing program called SHIELD. Air purifiers will help improve the flow and quality of the air in all instructional spaces across the district. Shield testing will help us identify individuals who are presymptomatic and without known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and allow preventative measures to be put into place to prevent further transmission. While the screening program is voluntary, there are numerous benefits for families. First, opting into the program will allow students an opportunity to stay in school via the Test to Stay program even if they get exposed to the virus and are deemed a close contact. Second, participating families will have peace of mind knowing if and when their child tests positive, but may be presymptomatic. For us as a school district, we hope SHIELD testing will help keep kids in school and allow for a continuity of instruction. In addition, data from SHIELD screenings will provide us with information about the positivity rate and level of COVID transmission in our schools and facilities. This, combined with the broader community stats provided by the IDPH, will allow us to adapt and change our health and safety protocols as needed as the school year progresses.
Over the past 16 months, I have collaborated extensively with other area school districts as well as the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois State Board of Education, and the McHenry County Health Department to ensure our decisions are made with the most up-to-date information. I will continue this consultation throughout the 2021-22 school year, and we will modify our mitigations as needed (as we did throughout the 2020-21 school year). I invite you to explore this dedicated COVID section of our website. Here you will find a family reference guide that provides an overview of our health and safety protocols (based on the most recent ISBE/IDPH guidance for schools and MCDH Interim School Guidance), a COVID-19 health metrics dashboard that will be updated weekly, testing and screening information, vaccination information, and more.
While I know not everyone agrees with all of the plans and decisions we’ve made, our plan takes into consideration the diverse needs of our community and the guidance and expertise of our medical professionals. We will continue to keep you informed via email and on our website as the pandemic evolves. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing students in our buildings next week and wish you and your child(ren) a wonderful start to the new school year!
Dr. Kathy J. Hinz