As we previously shared, on February 15, the Board of Education approved a resolution to move to an environment that strongly recommends but does not require mask wearing in school buildings on Monday, February 28.
District, building and health leadership teams have been planning and preparing for that move, and we wanted to share with you as much information as possible, as soon as possible, about our updated health and safety protocols, as well as our plans to provide students with support to navigate this transition.
Our updated mitigation plan is comprehensive, but is not a complete list of health and safety protocols for every situation that we will face. As we have experienced throughout the pandemic, we should expect the unexpected and be prepared to listen, learn and take action when necessary to address the needs of our staff, students and families. District 34 maintains local control to make decisions that are best for the current environment. We will continue to seek guidance from the experts in public health, relying on the expertise of the scientists and medical professionals at the CDC, IDPH and CCDPH.
We know that you’ll have questions about the information provided (and maybe about information that you don’t find here). We’ll address them on our website, which we will update tomorrow and will continue to update as we learn more about what staff and families need to know. In addition, principals and teachers will share any information that may be specific to a building or classroom.
Starting on Monday, District 34 recommends, but does not require, staff, students and visitors to our buildings to wear masks in most situations. Masks are recommended in the current environment because, based on CDC data, the transmission level in our area is substantial (down from “high” in recent weeks). In addition, IDPH and CCDPH also recommend mask use indoors at this time.
Please be aware of two important points:
Beyond reminding students to follow their family’s wishes, teachers and staff will not track parent wishes or monitor mask use of students
There will be no segregating of students based on mask use
The District will continue to provide KN95 masks to staff, and also has ordered KN95 masks for any students whose families would like them. These masks will be available in the main offices of all schools. Surgical masks will be available throughout the buildings as well.
There are situations in which masks will continue to be required:
Students and staff returning after a 5-day exclusion due to a positive COVID test must wear a mask for days 6-10 (or remain in isolation, returning on day 11 after the positive test).
The federal requirement to wear a mask in healthcare settings per OSHA (29 CFR Part 1910 Subpart U) means that masks must be worn in the infirmary and health office. (Masks will be available at the entrance to the infirmaries and health offices.)
As the District follows any rules associated with federal funding, any staff member for whom the District receives federal medicaid funds (e.g., physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, school psychologists, social workers) must wear masks when working with students.
Teachers and associates working with medically fragile students may be required to mask, as dictated by student IEP, 504 or other health plans.
SHIELD has indicated that their testing sites are considered healthcare facilities and that they will require masking at collection sites. Masks will be available at the entrance to SHIELD testing in each building.
Masks are optional on school buses starting Monday, February 28.
CASE REPORTING, CONTACT TRACING & QUARANTINES
This District will continue to report positive cases of staff and students in our schools to the Cook County Department of Public Health, but will no longer conduct detailed contact tracing, as that is the responsibility of CCDPH.
Again, students and staff returning after a 5-day exclusion due to a positive COVID test must wear a mask for days 6-10 (or remain in isolation, returning on day 11). Students in grades 3-8 who are home due to a positive case will be able to Zoom into their classroom for instruction (with the continued stipulation that it could take 24 hours before they are set up on Zoom). Students home with COVID in our primary buildings will work with grade center teachers during their long term absence.
In an unmasked setting, close contacts are those within 6’ for 15 minutes or more over the course of a day. As teachers and staff will not track the mask status of students, it will be assumed that students in the class or on the middle school team may be close contacts and notification will be sent to parents and staff in the affected classroom (grades EC-2) or grade level (3-8).
Unvaccinated individuals who are close contacts will be encouraged, but not required, to quarantine for five days as long as they are without symptoms. Anyone exposed is encouraged to test five days after exposure. If your child is exposed, you can take advantage of the Ravinia Health PCR test kits available from the front office.
We will continue to ask staff and families to monitor for symptoms of COVID, and to stay home when sick. Your child may return on day 6 after symptoms develop, if they wear a mask from days 6-10. If you wish for your child to return before day 6, you can provide a negative test. Ravinia PCR tests are available to those with symptoms.
Testing is an important layer to help the District mitigate the spread. Therefore, we are encouraging families to take advantage of weekly SHIELD testing. If you haven’t yet opted your child in, you can contact your building principal to do so. Again, Ravinia Health PCR test kits also will be available for any family who wants their child to test after exposure or if they have symptoms, as recommended in the previous sections.
Public health officials continue to state that vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Proof of vaccination is encouraged but not required for District staff (with exemptions for medical and religious reasons and objections of conscience). In addition, the District encourages but does not require substitute teachers and volunteers working in the classroom setting to provide proof of vaccination. Our local vaccination data is encouraging:
The percentage of fully vaccinated people in Glenview is 76% (from CCDPH data)
97% of D34 staff are vaccinated
The reported vaccination rate for District 34 students in grades K-8 is 57.7% (D34 does not currently require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for students)
We encourage you to upload proof of student vaccination to PowerSchool so that we can have the most reliable data. You can find instructions to do in the last issue of D34 Parent News. The District is hosting a vaccine clinic at Springman in March to provide a convenient location for vaccination and boosters for staff, students and families:
Thursday, March 10 (4:30-6:30 pm)
Age 12+ Dose 1 and Booster
Age 5-11 Dose 1
Thursday, March 31 (4:30-6:30 pm)
Age 12+ Dose 2 and Booster
Age 5-11 Dose 2
We will send out registration information in the coming days.
We will continue to maintain 3’ distancing when possible with 6’ distancing at lunch for grades 1-5. Existing markings and signage indicating distancing will remain in place. Those returning from a positive case must also maintain 6’ distance at lunch on days 6-10 after return.
The District allows classroom volunteers and other visitors into schools, with the pre-pandemic safety protocol of requiring they scan in through the Raptor system upon arrival and wear a visitors badge. Surgical masks will be available to visitors who wish to wear them. Volunteers who work with students in the classroom setting directly with students will be required to show proof of vaccination.
Signage will be updated throughout the buildings to convey that masks are recommended but not required. By the end of the day tomorrow, updated health and safety protocols, as well as FAQs, will be on our website. The District’s COVID Dashboard will be updated daily with positive cases, with a weekly summary. Close contacts will no longer be reported on the dashboard.
OTHER LAYERS OF MITIGATION
District 34 continues to maintain high levels of air circulation, ventilation and filtration and custodial staff conduct daily cleaning and disinfection. Hand sanitizer is available at every entrance and in every classroom. We will promote hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
SEL SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS & BEHAVIOR EXPECTATIONS
Students may be excited, concerned, apprehensive or eager – many will have all of those feelings at some point! Some of our students have never been in school without a mask, so for them this will be an all-new environment.
In the same spirit of our “D34 SELebration” the first week of in-person learning last spring, our move to a mask-recommended environment comes with a focus on social-emotional learning and community building. All teachers and staff will support classroom communities that encourage belonging, togetherness and peer connections. Posters and signs encouraging respect and understanding of differences and kindness will be up throughout the buildings. Our student services team and other staff members have prepared resources for families, including these talking points. They also have provided teachers with presentations, talking points, tips for guiding and redirecting conversations and optional class activities.
School rules and behavior expectations remain the same: bullying in any form is not tolerated. Our Bullying Tip Line is available for students, staff and families to report bullying behavior. In addition, the anti-bullying presentations by Dr. Justin Patchin for parents last week provided tips for parents on helping children navigate the current challenges of both the digital and “real” worlds.
For those families who have chosen to attend in-person conferences next week, masks are strongly encouraged. If masks are not worn, parents and teachers should maintain 6' distance.
For the very short version of this very long message, please take a look at the summary chart (also included below).