Dear District 86 Community,
The updated data on our COVD-19 dashboard
shows that we currently have 155 students and staff members in quarantine, which is the highest total we have had in this category since November. While we have experienced a slight rise in our positive cases during the past week (13 on April 9 to 18 on April 16), that did not cause the increase in our quarantine numbers. Instead, the shift is a product of the current close contact rules at the county and state levels, which are defined as anyone (with or without a face mask) who was within 6 feet of a confirmed case of COVID-19 (with or without a face mask) for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the infectious period. In this case, we had a few people test positive on the track team at Hinsdale Central and the baseball team at Hinsdale South. However, because of the close contact rules, more than 100 people have to quarantine for 14 days.
A number of you have called or emailed me to offer your thoughts on the close contact rules and quarantine guidelines established by the DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Many of you have shared concerns about the academic, mental and emotional toll that missing two weeks of in-person instruction will have on your children. You have also advocated for changing the rules and guidelines to help alleviate some of the stress and strain that students and staff have endured throughout the pandemic.
I understand and appreciate how devastating it is for our students to be quarantined right now, especially those who only recently returned to campus for the first time in several months. I also agree that there is an urgent need to conduct an expeditious review of the rules and guidelines, and strongly consider revisions to both. Our students and staff have been vigilant about following the health and safety procedures and protocols this year. Thanks to their dedicated efforts, we have only had an average of 10 positive cases and 44 people in quarantine per week since late January. In addition, there have been no outbreaks in the district since the start of the pandemic, and no transmission of the virus in our schools (i.e., all 368 positive cases to date have occurred away from campus during non-school hours).
With this in mind, I contacted officials from IDPH on Friday, April 16, and requested that the close contact rules and quarantine guidelines for schools, including athletics, be reviewed immediately and either clarified or updated to more accurately reflect what we know about the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and to align with the state’s goal of getting students back in the classroom and keeping them there. I have also requested that the state prioritize getting high school students vaccinated now. We have already partnered with Osco to administer more than 8,500 doses of the vaccine during the past three months, and have the infrastructure and resources in place to do the same for any 16- to 18-year-old who wants or needs to be vaccinated. I plan to continue reaching out and following up with IDPH on these requests, and will keep you updated on the response I receive and ways you can support our efforts.
Thank you very much for your time and attention to this message, and for your passionate support of our schools and the students we serve.