Returning to School After Winter Break - Dec. 29, 2021

Returning to School After Winter Break - Dec. 29, 2021

Dear District 97 Students, Staff, and Families,

We hope that you are all enjoying a safe and relaxing winter break. Unfortunately, many of you had plans upended once again by the current wave of COVID-19 infections, which will continue to present challenges in the weeks to come.

Below is a brief update about our plans for returning from winter break next week. Please keep in mind that we are still in a pandemic and current circumstances can change very rapidly. We anticipate sending another update prior to the district reopening on Tuesday, Jan. 4. 

School Will Remain in Person

We are not considering a district-wide switch to remote learning after winter break. The only reason that could potentially happen is if we find we do not have adequate staffing to teach classes in person. As a reminder, per the state, hybrid learning (some students on site, some online at home) is not an option this year.

CDC Changes Not Yet Adopted in Illinois

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its guidance about the length of time that positive but asymptomatic individuals need to isolate. However, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has not adopted those changes. That may change, and we are working closely with the Oak Park Department of Public Health (OPDPH) to understand how that would impact our schools moving forward. For now, the state’s guidance is still that positive individuals should isolate for a minimum of 10 days. 

We will update the community should there be any changes to the district’s quarantine or isolation procedures based on new guidance from state and local health departments.

Actions Now Will Make a Difference Next Week

As school districts, we can only do so much to control the spread of COVID-19. Keeping our schools open is in the best interest of our students, and it depends on every single community member following proven safety protocols (click here for recommendations from OPDPH): 

  • Get vaccinated and, if age 16 or older, boosted. Click here for a list of vaccination sources.
  • Limit high risk exposures.
  • Seek testing, if at all possible. Click here for a list of community testing locations. This list is not exhaustive; availability may be limited due to the current surge in cases. District 97 schools will resume weekly SHIELD testing after break.
  • Monitor closely for symptoms. Look for fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Seek testing and do not come to school if you are sick (click here for the current instructions for symptomatic students).
  • Follow the 3 Ws. Wear a mask. Watch your social distance. Wash your hands for 20 seconds.

If you haven’t done so already, we ask that you please take a moment to upload or email your child’s proof of vaccination, which will greatly assist our nurses with contact tracing procedures when we return. 

While COVID-19 continues to present ongoing challenges for everyone, our school community has been remarkable in continuing to put the needs of our students first. We are grateful for your continued support and partnership.

Sincerely,
Dr. Griff Powell and Dr. Patricia Wernet
Co-Interim Superintendents