Dear District 57 Families,
Happy new year and welcome back! I hope you were able to relax and refresh over the break and that this first week back has gone as well as can be expected. We continue to be concerned about the sharp rise in COVID cases. I have some important updates to share in that regard.
COVID Cases: As expected, many students are out of school, either because they have COVID or are in quarantine due to being identified as a close contact or the presence of symptoms. Our daily average of absences this week is 16 percent of students (compared to the 6 percent we generally see at this time). Staff absences are also high, but we’ve been able to manage with adequate coverage so far. I want to thank all of the D57 teachers, support staff, and administrators for their flexibility in covering unfilled absences each day. Sustaining in-person learning continues to be our priority. But our main goal is doing what’s best for students and staff, so we take things day by day, closely monitoring the data and guidance.
Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its school guidance with shorter isolation and quarantine times of five days, to focus on the period when a person is most infectious. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) are expected to announce an alignment with the CDC update soon. I will communicate any official updates with all District 57 Families and Staff as soon as they become available.
We will continue to monitor the impact of the Omicron variant closely. Should we find that there are too many students and/or staff in quarantine in a certain classroom, grade level or school, or the District as a whole, we can implement an “adaptive pause,” switching to temporary remote learning for the group that is affected. This decision would be made in partnership with the Cook County Department of Public Health. We do not believe we are close to requiring an adaptive pause at this time.
As a reminder, you can track the District’s COVID cases on our dashboard
. Please note that these numbers include people who were in the buildings when they were contagious. Still, they do not necessarily account for those who have COVID and were not in the buildings or those who are out due to quarantining after an exposure.
Vaccinations: We believe we have been able to sustain in-person learning thanks to the mitigations in place, as well as our stellar staff vaccination rate of 95 percent and the fact that so many students are vaccinated – including the nearly 150 students who attended our clinic last month! If your child is eligible and has not yet been vaccinated, please consider scheduling them, so they are protected and protecting others. And remember, being vaccinated could eliminate the need for a close contact to quarantine.
A Big Thank You: This has been an extremely stressful time for children, parents, and school staff. As you know, it is especially difficult for healthcare workers, including our District nurses. Please be respectful of the nurses and other staff who must notify families when an isolation or quarantine is necessary. It’s disappointing and concerning to get that call, but remember our staff members are only doing their job and helping to keep everyone safe. I thank our nurses and health assistants, as well as ALL of our teachers and school staff, for their flexibility, positive attitude, compassion and hard work.
What You Can Do to Help Curb the Spread and Keep Each Other Safe:
- Watch your child for any symptoms and keep him or her home if at all necessary.
- Be vigilant about following the mitigations. Remind your child to properly wear a mask all day, and send extras just in case. Strictly adhere to the requirements if you are notified of the need to isolate or quarantine. Those who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic do not need to quarantine unless they have tested positive. Find the specific guidelines in our Safety and Operations Guide
- Sign up for weekly SHIELD testing, if you have not already done so – simply notify your principal. About 60 percent of students are currently participating, and we have identified many asymptomatic cases through these fast and easy tests, which has surely prevented others from becoming infected.
- Spread the word about our need for substitute teachers and substitute instructional assistants – or consider becoming one yourself! The state has eased sub requirements in response to the critical shortage. Contact our Human Resources Coordinator Tom O’Rourke to learn more ([email protected], 847-394-7300, ext. 1010).
In spite of our current challenges, there are still many positive things going on in the schools every day. I am continually proud of students and staff for their dedication and resilience. If you have not already done so, be sure to read the D57 FALL/WINTER NEWSLETTER
that was published just before winter break. It recaps exciting school happenings during this time of change for our District and previews some of what’s to come.
Stay warm and stay healthy! Thank you for your continued partnership!
In the spirit of education,
Dr. Mary Gorr
Superintendent of Schools, Mount Prospect District 57