Dear District 97 Families and Staff,
We hope that you have been enjoying a safe and restful summer, and that you are getting excited about our return to school next week.
Below you will find a summary of our health and safety plans for 2022-23. Heading into the fourth school year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to prioritize the health, safety, and emotional well-being of our students and staff. As a school district, we plan to continue to use the everyday strategies that we know reduce the risk of disease transmission in our schools.
This year, we worked closely with District 200 to align our planning, in consultation with the Oak Park Department of Public Health, in order to streamline processes and create a coherent approach to COVID-19 for families.
The full plan is available on our district website; a one-page summary can be found here. Principals may communicate school-specific details separately. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions and guidance, and will be ready to adjust our plans if needed. If you have any questions, please reach out to us via Let’s Talk.
Thank you for your continued support and partnership to keep our schools safe. It will take all of us—families, staff, community members—working together to have a safe and successful school year. We look forward to welcoming staff back on Aug. 22 and 23 for our Institute Days, followed by students on Aug. 24 for the first day of class!
Dr. Ushma Shah
Continued Preventative Strategies
District 97 schools will continue to utilize the CDC’s recommendations for “everyday strategies” to prevent the spread of infectious disease, including COVID-19. This includes:
- Promoting staying up to date with all routine vaccinations;
- Encouraging students and staff to stay home when sick;
- Optimizing ventilation systems (click here for a summary of ventilation enhancements, maintenance and testing in District 97 schools);
- Reinforcing proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
- Utilizing proper cleaning and disinfection procedures.
Masking will continue to be strongly recommended, but not required, during the school day. Masks will continue to be required for any portion of field trips spent indoors or on buses, and for large events that include individuals who are not students or staff, unless school personnel determine that unmasking is necessary (e.g., student performers). Please review the mitigation plan for full details.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must stay home for five days after the first day of symptoms or testing positive (Day 0), and may return on or after Day 6 with resolving symptoms. For full details on isolation requirements, click here.
*NEW* Process for Reporting Positive Cases to District 97 Schools
Instead of emailing or calling their school nurse, families of students who test positive AND staff who test positive will be asked to complete a confidential COVID-19 positive case notification form. This process will help our schools more efficiently manage cases and provide timely information to the Oak Park Department of Public Health.
Families must continue to report student absences via the school attendance line, and staff must enter their absences in Frontline.
In alignment with CDC guidance, District 97 will no longer offer weekly screening testing through SHIELD. However, we will maintain a supply of over-the-counter, at-home antigen kits that could be offered to students and staff preemptively or at the onset of illness. We will also maintain the ability to utilize SHIELD in the event of an outbreak. This testing approach was used successfully in our summer programs this year, allowing us to maintain safe classrooms without disrupting instructional time or placing a heavy burden on school staff.
Free COVID-19 testing and at-home kits are now widely available in our community. We encourage all families to take advantage of the federal program that provides free home tests through the mail—click here to order.
NEW: Case Notifications and Public Reporting
We are committed to providing families with actionable data/information so they can make choices that fit their needs. Please review CDC guidance regarding exposure risk and steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.
Schools will continue to send emails to families and staff within the same class as the positive case, as well as families of students who ride the same bus or participate in the same district-sponsored extracurricular activity. Individuals who are close contacts are not required to quarantine unless they become symptomatic.
In alignment with District 200, we are discontinuing our COVID-19 dashboard. We will continue to track cases internally, just as we do for other illnesses, and will provide all required information to the Oak Park Department of Public Health. Our website will provide links to the village’s weekly reports, as well as other resources for tracking cases locally. Please be assured that we will continue to provide timely communication regarding health and safety concerns in our schools, including instances where we are seeing increased spread of any illness.
Important information, resources and updates related to COVID-19 will continue to be available on the District 97 website.