Dear RIMSD #41 families,
Much has transpired over the summer months regarding a return to school in Illinois. We’ve entered Phase 5 of the State COVID Protocols, which recognizes local control as stated: “Together with local public health officials, school administrators should consider multiple factors when they make decisions about implementing layered prevention strategies against COVID-19. Since schools typically serve their surrounding communities, decisions should be based on the school population, families, and students served, as well as their communities.”
Also, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance that allows schools to lift mask requirements indoors for vaccinated staff and students (previous guidance lifted mask requirements outdoors). As you can imagine, this has caused a lot of conversation and concern within the ranks of Superintendents across the state. Additionally, the CDC/IDPH ISBE recommend masks be worn by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated and that schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. We strongly recommend that all unvaccinated individuals go and receive the vaccination.
The guidance emphasized by CDC/IDPH/ISBE is strongly taken into consideration in implementing layered prevention strategies (masking, distancing, testing) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated and to lessen the impact of positive cases leading to increased quarantine time. With the support of the school board, and based on our current COVID-19 County and School Metrics, I recommend that RIMSD 41 begin the 2021-22 school year with masks being required for all students in Elementary buildings serving those under the age of 12, and a mask-recommended policy in our Junior High and High Schools.
This will help us limit the transmission of COVID-19 and lessen the timeframes tied to quarantine periods. We will continue to monitor local health metrics, the health and wellbeing of our students and staff, and will adjust accordingly as needed. We will reserve the right to reinstitute a full mask mandate for everyone if our local metrics and school environments warrant that need. Restrictions are not lifted for transportation. All passengers and drivers must wear a mask on school buses and public transportation.
The previous mitigation strategies will remain in effect:
Temperature checks and symptom screenings will be continued. Parents should keep their children home from school if they are sick or exhibiting symptoms.
Social distancing will be maintained in all school areas to 3 ft. apart or maximum distance possible.
Buildings will continue to undergo extensive cleaning/sanitation. Good hand hygiene will be strongly encouraged at all grade levels.
Flowcharts for staff and students will continue to be updated as needed.
Volunteers and visitors must do temp check and answer all COVID questions.
Quarantine room/space will still be maintained at each school.
We are in a better position than we were a year ago, and with everyone’s help and understanding, we will put this pandemic behind us! For now, the restrictions in place are for everyone’s health and safety as we start the school year fully open, 5 days a week.
Dr. Reginald Lawrence