November 11, 2020 – The following is a letter that was sent from Superintendent Paul Enderle to the District 123 community regarding Conditional Health & Safety Metrics.
Good Evening Families and Staff:
With a heightened level of awareness around COVID-19 in the State of Illinois, we want to provide you with updated information about how we are monitoring COVID-19 in School District 123. While it is impossible to maintain a completely risk-free environment during a pandemic, the health and safety precautions we have instituted in our classrooms help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 inside our schools. We currently remain committed to maintaining both our in-person hybrid model and fully remote programs.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has divided the State of Illinois into 11 Regions to monitor critical indicators linked to COVID-19 transmission in Illinois. The Village of Oak Lawn and the City of Hometown are part of Region 10. Presently, Region 10 is under mitigation restrictions as a result of rising metrics. As a community, we will begin to see the suspension of some services within our business community. At this point in time, our schools will remain open as our region remains in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan, which allows for in-person instruction to continue.
We will continue to monitor IDPH and other public health authorities’ metrics and report District 123 specific health data on the District 123 COVID-19 Conditional Metrics Dashboard. You can find current health metrics, local positivity rates, student and staff illness tracking information, and PPE inventory information on our dashboard. Our dashboard serves to provide accurate and transparent information to our community about the health and safety metrics we track within our school district. We also provided an update on these conditional metrics during the Lunchtime Live Update from November 11, 2020.
We do not know what the future will bring and cannot anticipate every variable that presents itself amid a pandemic. However, we will stay informed and take a very analytical approach to reassess our decisions daily. Presently, we do not use one metric or threshold that would automatically close our schools or pause our in-person instructional model. We maintain close communication with both the Regional Office of Education (ISBE) and CCDPH regularly, and will continue to comply with all public health and safety guidelines, mitigation restrictions, and procedures for schools.
We are committed to providing a high-quality and equitable educational experience in the safest possible environment. The continued health and safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. We understand that when mitigation strategies are enacted, they are not always easy. However, our health and safety protocols continue to work effectively in District 123, and we need our entire learning community to remain vigilant.
Since the start of the school year, we have found our illness reporting and quarantine protocols have helped mitigate possible exposure to the virus through our learning community’s attentiveness. Symptomatic individuals or those in close contact with confirmed cases are typically already quarantined or isolated well before testing positive. No matter how challenging, we must continue to keep students home when they exhibit symptoms, watch our distance, wash our hands, and wear our masks. If we maintain these efforts, we will continue to lower our risk of infection while keeping our students, staff, and schools as safe as possible.
In the upcoming days and weeks ahead, please remember to stay calm, stay together, and stay informed. We will continue to be transparent regarding the health of our learning community. Our door is always open for questions, concerns, or situations that may arise. We will always strive to find the best answers in service to you, our students and staff, and the entire Oak Lawn and Hometown school community.
Paul J. Enderle, Superintendent