Dear District 97 Community,
On July 9, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) fully adopted the updated guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools. The announcement included a declaration from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) that all schools must resume fully in-person learning for all student attendance days during the 2021-22 school year. Remote instruction must be available for students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine or who are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, only while they are under a quarantine order by the state or local health department. You can read more in the IDPH press release.
The District 97 administrative team has started working through the new guidance, and we are in consultation with the Oak Park Department of Public Health regarding its implications for the 2021-22 school year. Because the guidance allows for more local decisions regarding specific mitigation measures, we are carefully assessing all of our options before finalizing our plans. We anticipate releasing our updated safety measures and protocols in the coming weeks so that students, staff and families have ample time to prepare for a safe and successful return to school.
As we proceed with reopening plans, IDPH recommends that we work with local public health officials to determine the prevention strategies needed in our area by monitoring levels of community transmission (i.e., low, moderate, substantial, or high) and local vaccine coverage. During the July 13 meeting of the District 97 Board of Education, the director of the Oak Park Department of Public Health, Dr. Theresa Chapple-McGruder, reported that Oak Park is currently experiencing a moderate level of transmission. She also stated that approximately 57% of all Oak Park residents—about two-thirds of those eligible—are currently vaccinated.
We believe that it’s more important than ever for our community to work together to remain vigilant of the virus and do everything possible to keep our transmission levels low. According to the CDC and IDPH, vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic and help schools safely return to in-person learning. You can find more information and resources related to the vaccine on the Village of Oak Park’s website.
We will continue to provide frequent updates as our back-to-school planning progresses over the next few weeks. We appreciate your continued support, and hope that you and your families enjoy the remaining weeks of summer.
Dr. Griff Powell and Dr. Patricia Wernet