Updated IDPH Decision Tree (1/4/21)
Updated IDPH FAQ (1/4//21)
The IDPH Decision Tree and FAQ updates cover a variety of topics, but many are language updates for the shortened alternate quarantine options. As was communicated on 12/17, our Local Health Department has not yet authorized the use of these alternate options for students. Contact quarantine, therefore, continues to be 14 days from the last exposure.
Updated IDPH Quarantine Guidance - Please note, Effingham County Health Department has not yet authorized the use of the shortened alternate options for schools. We will continue to keep our parents and community updated if/when these options become available.
In light of the recent CDC news regarding the exploration of lessening the quarantine timeline, we should be reminded that the Local Health Departments and Illinois Department of Public Health establish procedures for the state. Any CDC recommendation will need to be approved at the state level and implemented by our Effingham Health Department.
ISBE Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigations FAQ (Nov. 24)
Governor's Executive Order 2020-73 (Nov. 23)
Teutopolis Unit 50 Families,
As you well know, we are experiencing an increase in our Covid positives and quarantines. This is true for our school district, community, county, region, state and nation. Today's communication is intended to help answer some of the questions that must exist among students, families and community.
Let's first address the matter of safety. We continue to seek guidance from the Local Health Department, specifically on whether or not the cases we are experiencing are epidemiologically connected, meaning are the transmissions occurring as school. If or when this becomes the case, and depending on the "outbreak" or cluster, we could move to more dramatic mitigation strategies, including an adaptive pause. This is, and has been, a part of our plan as was communicated formally in my August 26th TeacherEase email and to the public via our website and social media accounts.
Remember, an adaptive pause, determined in conjunction with the Health Department and following IDPH's Adaptive Pause and Metrics: Interim Guidance, could result in full remote learning for a particular classroom, grade level, building, or potentially the district. We remain committed to doing whatever is minimally invasive, but simultaneously fruitful, as we attempt to curve the spread of illness within our district. The potential timeline of an adaptive pause would vary depending on the unique circumstances associated with a particular cluster of cases and/or availability of staff, but could be up to 14 or more days, or as minimal as a week.
As has been previously communicated, we have and will continue to pursue other less drastic than closure measures if it is safe to remain in-person. Building level mitigation strategies could minimally include any of the following:
- Closing playgrounds,
- Canceling non-essential activities and meetings,
- Keeping students in stable class groups or classrooms and moving teachers between classes, if necessary,
- Increasing spacing between students where possible,
- Directional traffic flow to reduce crowding and increase social distancing,
- Minimization or elimination of gathering places before/after school and during lunch/recess,
- and/or Staggering school start, lunch/break, transitions and dismissal times across classes or age groups.
After the safety of students and staff, the second hurdle we have faced is the availability of staff. At present, this is the greater threat to our being in-person. We are so thankful for our substitutes teachers and substitute staff, but there simply are not enough of them to go around. In every corner of every building, we continue to have staff and substitutes that are willing to take on extra duties, to cover classes during prep periods, serve meals, wipe desks, etc. Frankly, these efforts, these selfless acts to do whatever it takes for one another and for our students, have allowed us to remain in-person. Staff availability, and the sustainability of these efforts, is questionable at best.
Here are the questions asked when determining whether in-person instruction remains viable:
1. Is it safe? We continue to take guidance from the LHD. To date, they have not indicated that we are any more/less at risk and cannot confirm that we have any school transmissions of Covid.
2. If x% of our population was on "choice remote", or otherwise absent, would we offer in-person instruction for 100%-x%. Thus far our answer to this is, yes.
3. Do we have teachers and staff available to educate our students and to maintain the essential functions of our buildings (transportation, food service, disinfection, etc.)? Certainly we have needed flexibility here, but to date it has been possible.
4. Where do we best meet the intellectual, emotional and social needs of our students? We believe that in-person instruction, where students have the opportunity to interact and engage with their high quality teachers/staff, programs, instruction and their peers is most desirable.
5. What are the needs and interests of our families and community? Similar to point two and four, assuming it is safe and we have the staff, we believe our community needs/interests are for us to remain open so as to avoid the potential undesirable academic, social-emotional, child-care, economic, and other implications of closure.
Let us all be reminded of the importance to adhere to established protocols so that we may all remain safe and well. Help us by modeling appropriate proactive measures, by keeping symptomatic children home from school, by minimizing unnecessary community based and social exposures, and by cooperating with the Health Department and school staff when notified of the unfortunate circumstance of quarantine or isolation.
As numbers increase and circumstances change, we will continue to adapt and update our approach. Thank you for your continued understanding and cooperation as we work together to flatten the curve, keep our students and staff safe and well, and provide opportunities for our students.
For any questions or concerns, please contact us at 217-857-3535.
Sports Safety Guidelines - Basketball to "High Risk"
District Covid Numbers (10/29/20)
Updated IDPH Exclusion Decision Tree (10/27/20)
District Updated Covid Numbers (10/15/20)
Updated IDPH Exclusion Decision Tree (10/13/20)
IDPH Exclusion Decision Tree (9/10/20)
Friendly Reminder of our full Remote Learning Practice Day on Monday, September 14.
Grab and Go Meals are available on Monday, September 14. Please complete the Meal Registration if interested.
Parents please contact the school office with the following information:
- Anything related to attendance
- Transportation changes
- Return to school information due to COVID related issues
Wondering what documentation is needed to return to school? Check out the IDPH/ISBE Exclusion Decision Tree or contact your school office!
Friendly Reminder of our full Remote Learning Practice Day on Monday, August 31st.
Grab and Go Meals are available on Monday, August 31st. Please come the Meal Registration if interested.
Teutopolis Unit #50 Families,
We have had an increasing number of questions in recent days from parents regarding the District's response to positive cases and close contacts. This communication is intended to help answer some of those questions.
Before addressing this topic we want to communicate that the District will be moving to 2:30 dismissals Monday through Friday beginning next week. Though our initial thought was that staff could meet the needs of Choice Remote Learners with two early dismissals per week, the additional students on quarantine and the logistical difficulties of working with in-person and remote learners has been more difficult than anticipated. This decision is being made with the support of our Board of Education, Teutopolis Education Association, and building administration. We know our teachers and students have been working hard to adjust to the new normal and this additional time will ensure that we more fully meet the needs of all learners regardless of platform and temporary circumstance.
The Grade School will continue to offer the after-school supervision from 2:30-3:40 for District K-6 students each day of 2:30 dismissal. This program is to support families that are not otherwise able to make accommodations to pick up early. Students will be supervised by District staff and will maintain all other pandemic protocols including masks, social distancing and limits of 50 within a given space. Students will have the opportunity to engage in grade level active play and the option to complete homework. More details for this program may be obtained by contacting the Grade School.
As for responding to Covid cases, our Return to School Plan, page 12, articulates how we are responding to positive cases and close contacts. Up until this past weekend, I would have said cases associated with students or staff within the district have had very minimal impact on our schools, as most were positive cases or quarantines that existed prior to our first day and had no direct contact within the buildings. The same cannot be said today, as the HS had two positive individuals in the building last week which resulted in contact tracing and quarantining of others. In instances like this, where the individual was within the building, I work directly with the Health Department, our building principals and department supervisors, and they with teachers and staff, to contact trace. The Health Department then communicates the need for isolation/quarantine of "close contacts", those within six feet for fifteen minutes or more.
As for schools closings, we are aware of several neighboring districts' situations and I would say that each has had unique circumstances resulting in their associated responses. Our circumstances have, and will continue to guide our responses too. I could certainly see a variety of situations in which closure could be warranted, but thus far those steps have not been necessary. IDPH and ISBE are also recommending a variety of other "less drastic than closure" strategies including that we may attempt if possible and appropriate:
- Suspending in-person learning for affected classes, grade levels or even buildings
- Closing playgrounds
- Canceling non-essential activities and meetings
- Keeping students in stable class groups or classrooms and moving teachers between classes, if necessary
- Increasing spacing between students in classes where possible
- Shortening the in-person school week
- Staggering school start and lunch/break times across year groups or classes
IDPH did release on 8/17 a document entitled Adaptive Pause and Metrics: Interim School Guidance for Local Health Departments. It does provide some metrics, or thresholds, for the Health Department to consider in consultation with the schools and specific actions steps for schools in the event of minimal and moderate community transmission (current protocols), and substantial transmission (full Remote Learning). Interim metrics to be considered by the Health Department include:
- Weekly county case rates: 50 per 100,000
- Weekly county overall case numbers increase for two consecutive weeks
- Weekly county youth case numbers increase for two consecutive weeks
- Weekly test positivity
We hope that you find these updates informative, transparent and helpful. If you should ever have any questions, please contact me at the Unit Office, 217-857-3535.
Please continue to look for updates and thank you for your ongoing support in adhering to, reminding and enforcing our established protocols as we keep everyone safe and well.
It has been an unbelievable blessing to have students back within our physical buildings and participating remotely during this first full week of school. As educators, it’s what we live for! Thank you for sharing your children with us, and for your continued support and encouragement during these times.
Today's communication is intended to provide a couple of important updates to our Return to School Plan . Please see the full document for the specific details, but the key points are noted below:
- IDPH and ISBE have released several new guidance documents. These documents have been reviewed by the Effingham County Health Department and are to be implemented within our school protocols (Remote Learning Plan page 12):
- School Calendar Changes (Remote Learning Plan page 3)
- All PK-12 students will participate in “Remote Learning Practice Days” on Monday, August 31 AND Monday, September 14.
- "Remote Learning Practice Day" Meal Registration
- UPDATE 8/25/20 District Covid Numbers
- In order to keep our parents well informed, the District Office will release updated numbers of Covid related quarantines and positive cases associated with our students and staff
- We intend to do these releases at least twice per week.
- Fluctuations in our totals may require additional days of early dismissal for teachers/staff to meet the needs of our increased number of remote learners. At present, there is not specific threshold for closures or modifications to in-person instruction. Our administrative team, our Board of Education, and/or our local Health Department will use the numbers as guidance in determining if/when full remote learning may be necessary.
Again, thank you and please continue to look for updates!
If you have questions, please contact me at the Unit Office, 217-857-3535.