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September 16, 2020
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Larson: four criteria will determine shift to in-person learning

We continue to monitor DuPage County COVID-19 rates and metrics provided by the state and county health departments to determine when our in-person hybrid learning model can begin. Currently, the growing number of COVID-19 cases in DuPage is a major barrier to in-person learning. We are eager to have students return for in-person learning, but to do so safely, there needs to be a consistent downward trend in COVID-19 data. 

Each day, we continue to assess the health department metrics, along with the other three criteria areas noted below. We will appraise families regularly. 

There are four key criteria that will allow us to shift to our hybrid model:

  • Health data
  • Staffing
  • Quarantine restrictions
  • Safety protocols and equipment

Health Data
Of the four criteria, current health data is an area of concern regarding our ability to return to in-person learning. According to the DuPage Health Department and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), DuPage is seeing trends that cause concerns. 

Now, more than ever, it is critical that each of us adheres to health officials’ guidelines:

  • Wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth
  • Maintain social distancing of six feet; and
  • Wash hands frequently.  

On Sept. 11, the IDPH placed DuPage in a warning category because of the number of new COVID-19 cases and the number of deaths. The IDPH threshold is 50 new positive cases per 100,000 people; however, in DuPage, cases have grown to 89 per 100,000 people. This trend has placed DuPage County in a cautionary position.  

On Sept. 14, the DuPage County Health Department released its Metrics for Schools, based on IDPH data. Of the six COVID-19 metrics the county is monitoring, five are trending upwards for this past week. Know that this alarming trend could be reversed if each of us adheres to health recommendations.  Wearing masks, social distancing and washing your hands are highly recommended precautions.  If you have COVID-19, please work with the local health department to isolate and/or quarantine to stop the spread. 

While the health data is alarming, the status for each of our other three criteria is at an acceptable level. 

Staffing
As part of our planning for a return to in-person learning, we have forecasted necessary staffing levels. We have specific staffing level targets for categories such as substitutes, additional supervisors, security, transportation, food service and custodial services.

  • Sufficient staff for student supervision is a key concern at this time.
    • While students won’t eat lunch in school, per safety precautions, they will have a lunch period. During this time, they can take advantage of various resources and supports. Student lunch room locations have been carefully assigned to comply with space limitations. 
  • Security staffing is at 50% of the staffing target. This remains a concern and we are working with the private contractor to increase these numbers.
  • We worked with our contracted food service, transportation and custodial service companies to ensure they would have sufficient staff when we return to in-person learning.  

Quarantine Restrictions
We are required to follow the strict guidelines for contact tracing if quarantine is required, per the DuPage County Health Department. The protocols for complying with contact tracing can be done efficiently and effectively if each of us complies with the safety protocols. Fewer individuals will be quarantined if each of us adheres to the safety protocols. Quarantine represents 14 or more days.  

Safety Protocols and Equipment

  • Building capacity plan is complete, by period and by classroom and other school venues
    • Our building administration continues to review and refine safety protocols.
  • Thermal temperature and self-certification screening technology is in place and functioning.
  • All directional and cautionary signs are in place.
  • Quarantine rooms are identified.
  • Contact tracing procedures are outlined and functioning.
  • Air quality has been thoroughly tested.
  • Personal protective equipment has been distributed:  disinfectant spray, sanitizer, masks (including N95 fitted masks for critical staff), gloves, Plexiglas barriers, electrostatic sprayer, etc.

How you can help
This week, three out of our four criteria are at an acceptable level. It is critical for each of us to be diligent regarding the health precautions. I am confident that our combined efforts will result in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases so we can safely launch our hybrid learning model soon.

Sincerely,
David F. Larson, Ed.D.
Superintendent 

Updated infographic posted on 9/24/20
Four criteria as of 9-24-20