Earlier today, Superintendent Paul Enderle sent the following email regarding the start of the 2021-22 school year to the Oak Lawn and Hometown school community.
July 29, 2021
School District 123 is eagerly anticipating the return of all students IN-PERSON on August 18, 2021. In preparation for the start of the 2021-2022 school year District 123 administration has been fully dedicated to planning efforts to ensure another safe and successful year.
As the State of Illinois has transitioned to Phase 5 of Restore Illinois, we continue to closely monitor conditions around the pandemic, review information from our public health authorities, elicit input from the community, and collaborate together with our local educational partners. With the most recent school guidance released from the CDC and IDPH/ISBE, the school district has developed a Preliminary Pandemic Health and Safety Plan for the 2021-2022 school year.
This phased prevention approach emphasizes the implementation of layered strategies, as well as the regular monitoring of community transmission which will ultimately determine the level of prevention used in our schools. Presently, the spread of the virus in our school community is low to moderate, so preventive measures are less intense, however, if community spread were to increase, we will need to adjust accordingly.
Based on current pandemic conditions and guidance from public health authorities, we are asking our school community to:
- Wear face coverings on the school bus. Face coverings are required on all public transportation including school buses as per the CDC Order, adopted by ISBE and IDPH.
- Return to in-person learning, including regularly scheduled extracurricular programs.
- Seek the advice of your trusted health care providers and get a COVID-19 vaccine, if eligible and so advised.
- Wear a face covering inside District 123 school buildings. The CDC and IDPH recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. We strongly recommend that all individuals in school buildings wear masks. Given the current COVID-19 metrics in our community, masks are not a requirement at this time. The requirements for face coverings could change if our area or schools experience an increase in cases or the guidance from governmental or public health authorities change.
- Stay home if you have signs of any infectious illness and see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance as much as possible within classroom and school settings.
- Follow all other important layers of prevention that School District 123 will implement, such as COVID-19 screening and testing, hand washing and respiratory etiquette, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures, as well as the use of cohorting and regular temperature checks.
- Opt into the District’s forthcoming COVID-19 testing program that will allow for the regular monitoring of transmission levels directly within our school buildings.
The District 123 phased prevention approach is meant to supplement, not replace any federal, state, or local health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which schools must comply. The implementation of this guidance will be done in collaboration with regulatory agencies, state and local public health departments, and in compliance with any state and local policies and practices.
While we are encouraged that local transmission levels remain at low and moderate levels, we must stay vigilant as we keep our learning community safe, healthy, and prepared for another successful school year. We will be further discussing this plan during our Lunchtime Live broadcasts over the month of August on Wednesday’s at 12:00PM. We hope that you share our excitement and enthusiasm as we begin in just a few short weeks. Our door is always open for questions or concerns that may arise. We will always strive to find the best answers in service to our students and the entire Oak Lawn and Hometown school community. Thank you for your continued partnership in helping us keep our schools and our children safe and healthy as we navigate yet another new school year.
Paul J. Enderle