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Parent Update - 9/30/21

Dear parent or guardian: 

As we continue to celebrate in-person instruction, students are enthusiastically engaged in learning and enjoying daily interaction with their peers. Teachers have taken advantage of the beautiful weather, bringing students outside when possible for physical exercise, mask breaks and a change of scenery. While maintaining in-person instruction continues to require patience, flexibility and support from all, there is no doubt our students are benefiting greatly from being back in our schools.

Below are some updates related to COVID as well as some social media information we wanted you to be aware of. We ask that you please discuss this information with your student(s), especially if they have access to social media. 

Learning During School Exclusion

In accordance with ISBE’s Remote Learning Disaster Proclamation, District 47 and the teachers’ association have come to a new agreement regarding instruction for students excluded due to COVID-19. District 47 students who are excluded from school in connection with being a close contact and/or a positive case of COVID-19 will soon have an opportunity to do both asynchronous and synchronous learning from home. See below: 

  • Asynchronous learning: Students will receive assignments (i.e., homework packets) from their regular and encore teachers. 
  • Synchronous learning: Students will engage in online instruction (in the areas of math and language arts) with a dedicated, licensed remote teacher. District 47 has posted job openings for remote teachers who will support academic and social-emotional learning for students at designated grade levels. Remote teachers will be available online for 2.5 hours per day on school days and will follow district pacing guides for each grade level of instruction. 
  • Note: As an alternative to asynchronous and synchronous learning with the remote teacher, students in grades K-5 may be provided a link to their in-person classroom at the discretion of their teacher. Students in grades 6-8 may be provided links to their in-person classes at the discretion of their academic team teachers. 

Students in Special Education

  • Early Childhood: Instructional minutes missed will be documented and made up when students return to school. Related/itinerant services may be provided virtually or providers may make-up minutes upon return to school. 
  • Kindergarten-8th grade: Students may be provided a link to join their class or scheduled service virtually. If a live link is not provided, instructional minutes missed will be documented and made up when students return to school.  

Students in Dual Language

Students will be provided a link to join their class virtually or will have access to the remote teacher for synchronous learning in English only (no Spanish language allocation will typically be available during the synchronous portion of the day). 

Students in Extended Curriculum (EC)

EC services for students in grades 3-5 will not be provided during the period of school exclusion. EC services for students in grades 6-8 will be provided asynchronously from their regular classroom teacher during the period of school exclusion.  

Updated COVID Guidance for Schools

Below are some changes to COVID protocols based on updated guidance recently released by ISBE, IDPH and MCDH. Links to updated guidance can be found on the District 47 website. Please note this information is subject to change. With the frequent changes in guidance, we encourage you to reference these sources of information: ISBE, IDPH, and MCDH. Below are highlights of these changes per the McHenry County Department of Health:

  • MASKS: While McHenry County is in high transmission of COVID-19, MCDH recommends staff and students who are not fully vaccinated wear a face mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated. Masks will continue to be required in school buildings by vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Schools have extra masks should a student require a change during the day; however, we encourage students to bring an extra mask to school as well. Additionally, families are reminded to clean cloth masks frequently to keep them clean and sanitary. Reminder: Per the CDC, face masks must be two layers and fit snugly around the mouth and nose. Mesh masks are not allowed. 
  • SYMPTOMS: The IDPH has released a new School Exclusion Decision Tree for those impacted by COVID-19. This document has been posted on the District 47 website. COVID-19-like symptoms include: fever (100.4°F or higher), new onset of moderate to severe headache, shortness of breath, new cough, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of sense of taste or smell, fatigue from unknown cause, muscle or body aches from unknown cause 
  • TESTING: 
    • Antibody test results are not accepted by MCDH. Question 56 in the IDPH COVID-19 School Guidance FAQ mentions that the local health department may consider releasing a probable case from quarantine or isolation based on antibody test results (under the circumstances defined in the question); MCDH will not release a probable case from quarantine based on the results of an antibody test.
    • Test to Stay (Quarantine Option 4): Students who participate in Shield testing may be eligible for the Test to Stay quarantine option if deemed a close contact. Testing on Days 1, 3, 5, and 7 for the Test to Stay program must occur at the school. This testing can be provided by a third party (such as by SHIELD Illinois), as long as it occurs on-site at the school. In general, close contacts can return to extracurricular activities if using this option, but students should not participate in sport competitions for the full 14-day quarantine period. 
  • CONTACT TRACING: Per the ISBE and IDPH joint guidance, individuals who are solely exposed to a confirmed case while outdoors are not considered close contacts. 
  • BUS TRANSPORTATION: While McHenry County is in high transmission of COVID-19, exposure on a bus will include everyone sitting within 6 feet of the confirmed or probable COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or longer. When not in high transmission, contacts within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student do not require exclusion as long as both the case and the contact were consistently masked and windows were opened or HEPA filters were in use.
  • SYMPTOMATIC INDIVIDUALS AND EXCLUSION OF HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS: 
    • Schools must exclude unvaccinated household members of the symptomatic student or school personnel unless the sick individual was tested within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. If the ill individual was tested within 24 hours of onset of symptoms, household members do not need to be sent home unless there is a high suspicion the ill person has COVID-19 (e.g., they are a known Close Contact, they have lost sense of taste and smell). 
    • Pending test results (if test performed within first 24 hours), household members can remain in school with consistent use of well-fitting masks both indoors and outdoors. If the ill household member tests positive for COVID-19, then any unvaccinated household members should be excluded from the school immediately and treated as a close contact (refer to Situation #3 in the ISBE P-12 COVID-19 Exclusion Protocols). Asymptomatic household members who previously tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to be excluded if it has been fewer than 90 days since the date symptoms began or the date of specimen collection (if they were asymptomatic).

Social Media Challenges

Some of you may have heard about a recent social media challenge on Tik Tok promoting vandalism in schools,especially bathrooms. Unfortunately, a few District 47 students took part in this challenge, which involved students ripping soap dispensers off bathroom walls, destroying window screens, breaking windows, etc. and posting photos of their acts of vandalism on Tik Tok. We have since learned that there are other themed challenges planned on Tik Tok each month. Please know that District 47 will not tolerate these acts of vandalism and aggression. There will be consequences for engaging in this type of behavior and we will involve the police as appropriate. If your child has access to social media, we ask that you please have a conversation with them about this. We also ask you to encourage your student to report any suspected misconduct to school administration. We appreciate your partnership!    

Sincerely, 

Dr. Kathy J. Hinz

Superintendent