Return to School 2021-2022 » Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Board of Education Approves Mask-Recommended Policy to Start February 28, 2022

Parent Questions About Revised Masking Policy *Feb. 25, 2022*

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Easier perhaps. However, legally we are obliged to follow the rulings of the courts on this matter.
We do not have specific vaccination rates for students. This information is self-reported and therefore not entirely accurate. We can look up each student’s vaccination status in the state database but do not have a file that shows all students. CCDPH has stated that vaccination rates are below 50% for students in our area. 
Generally, those who choose to do so. However, we are still requiring masks in our Early Childhood and pre-K classes since those students are not eligible to be vaccinated and there is still a mandate for daycare facilities. Also, those returning to school after a 5-day isolation will be required to wear masks for an additional 5 days per CDC guidelines.
It will be very difficult for us to perform contact tracing given that masking plays a factor in who is- and who is not- considered a close contact. Letters will continue to go out to classrooms where a positive has been identified.
COVID positive students are still excluded per the CDC guidelines.
We will consider shifting back if positivity rates exceed 8%. 
We have no legal basis to wait a few more weeks.
No
We will still isolate positive cases according to CDC/IDPH recommendations and notify families if there is a positive case in a classroom. Close contacts will not need to quarantine as long as they remain asymptomatic. All other protocols will remain the same.
If positivity rates exceed 8%, the Board of Education will consider a return to masking.
It doesn’t. A person’s vaccination status is independent of their ability to mask or not.
The health guidance is constantly changing; as recently as 2/25/22 the CDC revised its masking guidance for schools and buses. While we certainly have followed the guidance of our health professionals, we are always obliged to follow the rule of law.
We do not want to create a situation in our classes and school where we separate kids based on mask status. We will continue to distance students and use our other mitigation measures. 
That is the threshold at which the board will consider whether to mandate masking again.
As with any case of bullying, our administrators will investigate and consequence any student who exhibits this type of behavior.
We are in complete agreement. Just as our teachers and administrators will be reinforcing the school district’s behavioral expectations regarding bullying, parents, too, have an important role to play here. All of us adults need to be talking to students about respecting others.
Yes
See previous answer on bullying.
Yes, SHIELD testing will continue.
See previous answers.

Other Questions from Parents *Feb. 25, 2022*

The bus service has been inconsistent this year in large part due to a nationwide shortage of bus drivers and substitute drivers. There has not been a single week this school year when we have not needed at least one substitute driver on at least one of our routes. Finding substitute drivers or re-routing drivers from other routes causes delays. On several occasions this year, no substitute could be found at all.  Also, Kickert serves multiple school districts, not just ours, so problems in one place reverberate system wide. Like in air travel, a storm anywhere in America can impact your flight, even if it is sunny where you are. 

So what can be done?

Unfortunately, not much. This is nationwide problem. We are unaware of any neighboring school district that hasn’t had the same problems we have experienced. Moreover, options for contracting with a different transportation company are limited—although we have investigated that, too. Many of the bus companies that service our area (Kickert, American Bus Company, Illinois School Bus Company and others) are owned by the same entity and hence have the same issues.
We pass along information about our bus routes as soon as we receive it from Kickert.  This year, however, that communication from Kickert has come much later in the process. Often the reason for the delay in communications is because many of Kickert’s front office staff are driving buses on routes that need substitute drivers. Understandably, they cannot email or text or make phone calls while driving, thus communication about the day’s bus service suffers.
Lunchtime poses unique challenges in terms of COVID mitigations. Even as District 153 transitions to a mask-optional policy, lunchtime has always been when the masks come off. As such, we have tried the best we can to space out students while eating. We have students eating lunch all over their buildings: in the lunchroom, in gyms, in classrooms, even in hallways.  In too many instances, a hot lunch would be cold by the time a student walks from the lunch line to wherever they are eating—or the lunch tray spilled in the hallway. Bagged lunches can be transported easily and in bulk to wherever they are needed, allowing students more time to eat and more time for recess. Bagged lunches also take up less of the limited storage space in our kitchens to keep lunches at a safe temperature. 

Supply chain disruptions also have factored into lunch service decisions. For the most part, we have been able to secure the grab-n-go items that have been on our menus.

As for other school districts, they may have more cafeteria or storage space or perhaps they have prioritized hot lunches over physical distancing. For the reasons stated above, District 153 has continued with grab-n-go lunches because we think it is the right decision for our district at this time.
Updated August 24, 2021
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Questions About Remote Learning

A return to remote learning is not currently an option for Illinois school districts. 

 

We are bound to follow ISBE guidance which says remote learning can only be offered under certain parameters as described below:

Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, all schools must resume fully in-person learning for all student attendance days, provided that, pursuant to 105 ILCS 5/10-30 and 105 ILCS 5/34-18.66, remote instruction be made 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 quarantine consistent with guidance or requirements from a local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health.

 

District 153 will be monitoring closely local positivity rates and other data points. However, a return to remote learning, regardless of the data, is not currently an option for Illinois school districts. 

 

We are bound to follow ISBE guidance which says remote learning can only be offered under certain parameters as described below:

Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, all schools must resume fully in-person learning for all student attendance days, provided that, pursuant to 105 ILCS 5/10-30 and 105 ILCS 5/34-18.66, remote instruction be made 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 quarantine consistent with guidance or requirements from a local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health.

 

Remote learning is only offered when a student cannot receive the vaccine or has not received the vaccine AND is required to quarantine by the local health department. Regardless of if a student qualifies for remote instruction all work may be made up when absent.

It would likely be with their teacher. There will not be special remote learning classes this year.

Yes. We will provide remote learning if a vaccinated student has to quarantine.

If forced to quarantine, then yes.

Streaming will be offered only as needed.

Yes
Students who are required to quarantine will have two options for remote learning:
  1. The quarantined student will have the ability to Zoom into their ELA and math classes at their scheduled times during the school day. Quarantined students will have limited interaction with their classroom teacher, but a school staff member will also check in with the student each day.
  2. The quarantined student will have the ability to receive missing work that can be completed throughout the quarantined time period. The missing assignments maybe in the form of paper packets, Seesaw activities or assignments within MS Teams.
*** Work assigned to a quarantined student will be due one week after the student returns to school.

Yes, all students will have a device available if required to quarantine.

Questions About SHIELD Testing and BINAX NOW Testing

Families must be given this right. We cannot mandate this testing for all students.

Unvaccinated individuals are required to participate, and all others are encouraged. In addition, all unvaccinated band and choir students will be required to participate in SHIELD given the increased risk of transmission these activities carry with them and as per revised guidance from the ISBE.

Just like those who have been vaccinated, individuals with a lab confirmed COVID test within 90 days are not required to participate.

We will be using our SHIELD screening test for all students, unless a parent signs an opt-out form and returns it to the student's school nurse.

No news is good news. The school will notify the family  ONLY IF there is a positive test result. However, parents can gain access to their child's SHIELD test results. Click here for more information.

After collaborating with the SHIELD team, HR Support was assigned as our third party to assist in administering the screening test.

5-10 minutes per week

The SHIELD test is designed to identify asymptomatic students. The BINAX Now test is used for symptomatic individuals.

Yes

All students who do not opt-out will be tested once a week.

Yes

Yes, they might be. However, students are distanced and can provide the sample by lifting their mask.

Yes, our staff will accommodate students as they partake in testing.

Due to the unlikelihood of severe infection following vaccination, SHIELD recommends screening all unvaccinated individualsDistrict 153 will test all students and staff regardless of their vaccination status unless an opt-out form is returned to the school nurse.

Our third-party provider signs a contract with SHIELD Illinois to ensure all laws related to disclosure of health information is protected.

Questions About Vaccinations

On Aug. 31st, the District 153 Board of Education voted to require all district employees—including substitute teachers, itinerant staff and Board of Education members--to be vaccinated by October 15th.  Volunteers in our schools also will have to show proof of vaccination to enter the buildings. 

On Aug. 31st, the District 153 Board of Education voted to require all district employees—including substitute teachers, itinerant staff and Board of Education members--to be vaccinated by October 15th.  Volunteers in our schools also will have to show proof of vaccination to enter the buildings. 

Approximately 85% of all teachers are vaccinated, and 80% of all staff are vaccinated.

On Aug. 31st, the District 153 Board of Education voted to require all district employees—including substitute teachers, itinerant staff and Board of Education members--to be vaccinated by October 15th.  Volunteers in our schools also will have to show proof of vaccination to enter the buildings. 

On Aug. 31st, the District 153 Board of Education voted to require all district employees—including substitute teachers, itinerant staff and Board of Education members--to be vaccinated by October 15th.  Volunteers in our schools also will have to show proof of vaccination to enter the buildings. 

On Aug. 31st, the District 153 Board of Education voted to require all district employees—including substitute teachers, itinerant staff and Board of Education members--to be vaccinated by October 15th.  Volunteers in our schools also will have to show proof of vaccination to enter the buildings. 

Questions About Lunch/Snacks

Parents can always take their children from the school for an appointment. However, it becomes very difficult for office staff and teachers to manage this on a daily basis. We are taking all steps possible to safely feed our students in our buildings. 

Like last year, the USDA has extended the free school lunch program for all students for the 21/22 school year.

Details will be provided by Willow staff soon.

As far as possible. Not closer than three feet but as far as possible. We will utilize as many spaces as possible to provide the greatest amount of distancing possible.

On any given day, no. We will try to utilize outdoor spaces when possible but this can change daily.

Yes

For themselves, yes.

Questions About Before and After School Care

The Park District organizes and staffs these programs and can provide details.

Miscellaneous Questions 

We will not force any student to use a locker if they do not wish to. Each building will provide details on how this will work.

Parents should check their child’s temperature each day and make sure they have no COVID symptoms before sending them to school. However, we will NOT be requiring students at Willow to have the paper health certification form nor students at Churchill and James Hart to wear a wristband confirming that these things have been done.

Absences need to be reported to each school building. The student absence hotline is 708-647-2200.

 

It is VERY important to report any student who is symptomatic for COVID directly to his/her school nurse for possible contact tracing. 

  • James Hart School Nurse: 708-647-2321
  • Churchill School Nurse: 708-647-2201
  • Willow School Nurse: 708-647-5648
Distancing is to be done as best as possible, and there may be times when students are closer than three feet. However, for contact tracing, so long as the “close contact” is not for more than 15 minutes then it does not meet the criteria for quarantining purposes. Students adjacent to one another in passing before or after school do not meet this threshold.
Yes

Yes, we will use outside subs. We will not require proof of vaccination since everyone at this time will be masked.

Students will be passing one another in the hallway but all will be masked.

Yes, Churchill will be having BCO. Details of these programs will be provided by each teacher.

Our district has an approved E-learning plan to use on potential bad weather days. Details of this plan will be shared if we see bad weather predicted.

Yes, an e-mail will be sent.

Rooms are wiped down and sprayed with an atomizer each night by our custodial crew. Each classroom has disinfectant wipes and/or spray with paper towel to use as needed. All students will be encouraged to frequently wash their hands or use sanitizer.

Yes

We do provide weekly cleanings of playgrounds but the best way to ensure playground safety is to have all students wash/wipe their hands upon returning to the building.

All internal air quality improvements occurred last year. Our architects have performed a study of air exchange rates and ours were found to be at a safe level.
If unvaccinated, yes.
Two people total
We will monitor positivity rates but will not commit to a certain course of action based on one number. We will closely follow the recommendations of IDPH and Cook County DPH when making decisions.

Details will be coming from James Hart staff.

Visitors to our buildings must present proof of vaccination.

We will use our screening and diagnostic tests to provide the extra layers of security needed to ensure a safe environment. There are no “special rules” for people who travel unless mandated by IDPH.