January 13, 2022
The effort put forth this week navigating the latest COVID-19 surge has been tremendous. The actions by our teachers, support staff, administrators, families, and partners First Student and Sodexo, were tremendous to meet our students’ academic, social and nutritional needs. It was no easy task changing course in the middle of the school year, and I am grateful for the collective response to make this work.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) have reduced quarantines and exclusions for students and staff members who test positive for COVID-19, or are considered a close contact to a positive case, to five days. This guidance aligns with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The district is adopting the new guidance immediately. As a result, all students and staff who were positive on or before Wednesday, January 12th may return on Tuesday, January 18th if they are fever free for 24 hours, have improved symptoms, and remain masked at school. Close contacts on or before Wednesday, January 12th may return on Tuesday, January 18th if they remain asymptomatic. The shortened quarantine and exclusion will assist in making sure we have the staff to manage classrooms and decrease the length of student absences that are COVID-related. The district’s Return to Learn Plan will be updated and released to families early next week.
After careful consideration, we have decided to continue in-person instruction on Tuesday, January 18th by incorporating a shortened school day. Schools will dismiss ½ hour early every day. The shortened day will give our certified and non-certified staff additional time to balance combined in-person and live instruction for COVID-19 related absences; and allow our district to meet our students’ academic, social and nutritional needs. The district will maintain this schedule from January 18th through February 4th. At this time, it is anticipated the district will return to our normal schedule on Monday, February 7th.
This bus and school schedule is currently used on Wednesdays throughout the school year and is familiar to our staff, students and families. A change of this nature is not welcome at any point in the school year, but it is necessary at this time. Please review the student dismissal times below and adjust your daily routine for the next three weeks. We understand this may cause an additional burden on families and we apologize in advance. This change is designed to be temporary.
½ Hour Early Dismissal Schedule
|Elementary Schools (Except Webster)||8:00 am – 2:15 pm|
|Elementary School (Webster)||8:00 am – 2:00 pm|
|Dorris Intermediate School||8:50 am – 3:05 pm|
|Collinsville Middle School||8:35 am – 3:00 pm|
|Collinsville High School||7:55 am – 2:25 pm|
Cleaning protocols outlined in the district’s Return to Learn Plan and social distancing to the greatest extent possible will remain in place to provide a safe environment for our students and staff.
Due to the volume of rapid antigen tests our health staff is administering to symptomatic students, the district is going to suspend the “test-to-stay” option for students who are a close contact to a positive case at school. Once the surge subsides, we will revisit offering the test-to-stay option to all students exposed to a positive case. Thank you to our health staff for their amazing efforts every day.
What happens outside of school in the community and your home has an impact on our ability to keep kids in school. During this surge in COVID-19 cases, we need your help. Please review the information and protocols below to help us provide a safe environment for our students and staff:
- Complete the daily COVID-19 checklist: Parents are reminded to review the COVID-19 symptom checklist each day before children leave for school. The checklist is posted on the district website (use this link) and the CUSD Connect district app. The app is free and is available on your phone’s app store.
- Symptomatic People Stay Home: Anyone feeling sick or experiencing symptoms outlined in the COVID-19 checklist, should STAY HOME. If a child begins to feel sick at school, they should report their symptoms to the teacher or school nurse immediately.
- Proper Masking: Students and staff are required to properly wear a face covering (mask) over their nose and mouth while indoors and on bus transportation. The full Face Coverings and PPE policy is on pages 6-7 of the district’s Return to Learn Plan.
- Family Responsibility: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is imperative for families to practice disease prevention outside of school, too. This includes simple actions like proper hand hygiene, physical distancing, face coverings and avoiding attending/hosting crowded gatherings. Use these links to see CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others from COVID-19: English or Spanish
- Alternative Diagnosis: Depending on symptoms, even with a negative COVID test, documentation of an alternative medical diagnosis may be required for a child to return to school. This request is consistent with our district’s Exclusion for Communicable Disease policy. (Review the policy in English or Spanish.)
- Proof of Vaccination: Children 5-years and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. If your child’s vaccination status has changed – by becoming vaccinated or boosted – please make sure their school has the most up-to-date information by providing a copy of their vaccination card.
- Vaccine Clinic Information: Our district has partnered with the Madison County Health Department and IDPH to host vaccination clinics after hours at several of our schools for the convenience of families and community members who want to get vaccinated. The next clinic is Monday, January 31 at Webster Elementary from 3-8 p.m. Appointments are strongly encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. To schedule an appointment, click HERE. Additional vaccination opportunities in our community are found HERE.
As we experienced last year, the situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly changing. Updates will be provided to families with as much advance notice as possible. Thank you for your continued patience and your constant dedication to our students. Don’t forget to wear your purple and show your Kahok Pride!
Mark B. Skertich, Ed.D.