August 19, 2021
Dear Lake Villa 41 Parents and Guardians,
As we prepare to return to school once again in the midst of a pandemic, it is understandable to be concerned. During June and July, we saw COVID rates dramatically decline and we thought we would have a decent chance of returning to school in a much more normal fashion. However, with the Delta variant, Incidence Rates are climbing once more and we find ourselves in a position of HIGH community transmission. In fact, COVID cases in the 60046 zip code increased by 233% in the past 14 days, compared to the previous 14 day period. Our zip code Incidence Rate is 18.12. Overall Lake County is 16.04. Any rate over 14 indicates HIGH community transmission. In fact, in one month, our new cases per day jumped from 15 to 116.
We will continue to do whatever we can to keep our schools safe. We will continue with our layered mitigation strategies. These include wearing masks inside and on buses, maintaining social distance of 3 - 6 feet to the extent possible, and encouraging proper respiratory etiquette and hand washing. We will also continue to encourage staff and students to stay home when they are sick. Thanks to our referendum, 12 of our air filtration systems were replaced this summer. They are all outfitted with high-performance Merv filters. Three of our air handling systems were also replaced. Our GFS staff will continue cleaning and sanitizing daily at each school. This year we will have Shield PCR COVID testing in place at each school to catch cases, especially asymptomatic ones before they spread. Children will only be tested if their parents have signed the consent form that will be sent home in the upcoming days. All of these mitigation layers are supported in the CDC Guidance
In the new guidance, ISBE (Ill State Bd of Ed), the CDC, and the Illinois Department of Public Health are silent on many things such as desks facing the front, the use of playground equipment, and the sharing of supplies. What we do know is that COVID is less likely to be transmitted surface to surface and much more likely to be transmitted in the air hence the reason for masks, practicing respiratory etiquette, and providing improved air filtration.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) no longer allows districts to offer Remote Learning except to students who are COVID quarantined. After weighing several options, we be offering what we are now terming Limited Remote Learning:
- This limited version is different from Remote last year. For example, there will be no “specials” for quarantined students. Students who are quarantined will have access to whole group instruction for our core curriculum and special education services with an opportunity to complete all of their school work. Their instructional day will be approximately four hours.
- Per ISBE, students on vacations, out of the country, or home ill with any other illness are not allowed to participate in Limited Remote Learning
We are looking forward to welcoming all of our staff and students back on-site! We have a great deal to look forward to - seeing all our students face to face, welcoming our 26 new staff members, and enjoying our much-needed facility improvements. In the meantime, please be sure to check out our Return to School FAQ which is attached. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact your building principal.
Dr. Lynette Zimmer