District 200 School Community,
In August, all 20 of our schools will be open five days a week. We look forward, to the best of our ability, to a traditional school experience. We are also committed to returning students and staff to school in a safe manner.
Following the recently released updated guidance to schools from the Centers from Disease Control (CDC) and the adoption of that guidance by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), I provided the Board with an update on the upcoming 2021–22 School Year at last night’s Board of Education Meeting. The full presentation update can be found at this link.
The new guidance prioritizes in-person learning; recommends layering mitigations, provides recommendations and gives districts some local control over decisions regarding layered mitigations. As I also shared last night, our local health data in DuPage County continues to be strong. As reported by the DuPage County Health Department, more than 80% of eligible residents in DuPage have received their first dose of vaccine and 98% of residents over the age of 65 have received their first dose. Our local health data is compelling and demonstrates our readiness to move into a new phase of layered mitigation.
After a thorough discussion, the Board of Education accepted our recommendation to continue:
- Physical distancing at 3 feet
- At-home COVID-19 symptom monitoring
- Hand hygiene practices
- Cleaning and disinfecting practices
- Adequacy of ventilation and filtration systems
- Masks required on buses
- Contact tracing at 3 feet
- Data monitoring and case reporting
- Optional COVID-19 testing
- Sharing information regarding vaccine opportunities for those eligible
Additionally, per the updated guidance, districts do have the local control to remove mitigation strategies based on local conditions. If districts choose to remove mitigations, they should be removed one at a time and monitored closely.
The Board also accepted our recommendation that the first prevention strategy we lift is mandatory mask-wearing at all grade levels, as it offers individuals (both students and staff) and families a choice to continue wearing a face covering should they want to make that choice. Our administrators and staff will ensure that our schools remain safe, caring and respectful learning environments that are supportive of an individual’s choice on mask-wearing. As adults, we have an opportunity to model that behavior for our students.
As we approach the start of the 2021–22 School Year, I recognize that there are still a number of questions our school community may have. We are still working through gathering more information and clarity from our health authorities and I look forward to sharing more information as we near the start of school. While the coming school year will definitely look and feel like a more traditional school year, we must still remain vigilant in following our layered mitigations to keep our students and staff healthy and safe.
I hope that all students, families and staff are taking the time to rest and recharge this summer as we get ready for a brand new school year.
Dr. Jeff Schuler