September 13, 2021
We want to first thank our students, staff, and our families for everyone’s cooperation and flexibility during our shift to remote learning this week. Also, we want to thank those of you who have contacted us with questions and feedback. As of Friday, we were still putting
together information and working with our LDPH to contact trace and provide testing for those requesting it.
COVID trends within the school:
The week of August 23, we had 2 positive COVID cases (1 student 1 staff), and 15 resulting close contacts. The week of August 30, we had 2 positive cases (1 student 1 staff) and 5 resulting close contacts. Last week, we had 22 positive cases (21 students 1 staff) and 66 resulting
close contacts. Of these, 74% of those testing or reporting positive test results were students in grades K-4, 10% were in middle school and 16% in high school. Thirty percent of the resulting close contacts were in grades K-4, 30% in middle school, and 40% in high school.
Reporting cases to our staff and families:
At the start of the school year, we were only providing information about positive cases to those who needed to be contacted for exposure. We felt that our students, staff, and families have been inundated with COVID-19 information and were hoping to get as ‘back to normal’ as possible for the 2021-2022 school year. Any individuals who were exposed to the staff member(s) and/or student(s) who tested positive were directly contacted by the school.
Feedback we have received since last week indicates many of you would like more notification of positive cases. Due to the small number of people in our school and at each grade level, we have to be careful about sharing information and respecting privacy and confidentiality. Each week, we post IDPH school metrics for local data and trends on our website. We will begin to add school specific weekly information (like what you see above in COVID trends within the school) to this post.
Vaccination and Testing:
We had a few questions about vaccination rates and testing.
Currently less than 12% of students in grades 7-12 have verification of COVID-19 vaccination on file.
At Leland School, we have not had staff discord surrounding vaccinations and testing. Conversations around vaccines and testing are respectful of each other, our individual views, and overall concern about keeping ourselves, students, and families safe from potential infection.
Currently 78% of the staff are fully vaccinated.
While unvaccinated staff are required to participate in weekly testing, 95% of the vaccinated staff have also signed up for weekly screening due to, while reduced, the still possible transmission of the Delta variant.
Types of Tests
PCR tests are the ‘gold standard’ - processed in a lab and detect the presence of COVID-19 genetic material. Antigen tests have rapid results and detect the presence of proteins shed from the outside of the virus. The explanation we give students is that if someone said “That isn’t the real Mr. Bickel. It’s an imposter” we could check his DNA. The best way to get it is by taking a sample of his blood or saliva directly from Mr. Bickel (or his imposter). That is like a PCR test. We could also check the chair he sat in for the skin cells and hair he left behind. This is like the antigen test. It can still find his DNA, but how well the test can do depends on things like how long he sat in the chair and how recently he was sitting there.
We are doing everything we can to have SHIELD screening available to our staff and students beginning next week. This is a PCR saliva based test. We are investigating the possibility of having it available twice a week, with use of BinaxNOW for individual requests. We offer testing as a convenience and as a way to keep attendance in-person by quickly verifying symptoms and exposures are not COVID-19 related. All tests conducted at the school have to be reported to IDPH. Other tests from healthcare providers will be reported to IDPH as well and staff and students can, of course, obtain tests from a healthcare provider instead of the school. Over the counter tests cannot be accepted by the school per the IDPH because they are not reported to the State.
If anyone suspects a positive or negative antigen test result is inaccurate, the recommendation is to follow-up with your healthcare provider and to confirm with a PCR test.
School Role in Placing People on Quarantine
In an effort to provide you with as much information as possible with regards to the most current IDPH guidelines, the staff refers to and shares that information when contacting individuals and families about positive test results and contact tracing. Reflecting on this past week, we realize this not only puts our staff in a position of interpreting and conveying information that is constantly changing and confusing, but also has left an impression that ‘the school’ is placing people in quarantine.
In coordination with the LaSalle County Health Department, wording from the school will be simplified and focused on the test result of the individual (or close contact notification), and the temporary move to remote learning/instruction. We will simply say that (name of
the individual) has tested positive for COVID-19 or is an immediate family member, and will be moved to remote learning pending further instruction from the health department).
- Positive test results are reported to IDPH, who in turn notifies LCHD, who in turn sets the quarantine timeline for those who tested positive and close contacts and will communicate that directly to the individual.
- The IDPH will provide a notice to the individual verifying the requirement for quarantine and date for return to in-person attendance
Close Contacts - Exposures - Test to Stay
Vaccinated individuals identified as a close contact exposure to COVID-19 are not required to move to remote learning.
To ensure the safety of our students, staff, and families, we will offer a screening test between day 3-5 from the exposure. Unvaccinated individuals can stay in-attendance by participating in screening on days 1, 3, 5, and 7 from exposure .
This is for IN SCHOOL close contact exposures (including school related activities) only and does NOT apply to:
- exposures within the household
- exposures outside of school
- individuals who were not fully complying with mask wearing guidelines
Thank you again for your continued cooperation and support. We look forward to having everyone back in-person. We will continue to ask
for your help to maintain a school environment that will provide for safe in-person learning and participation in school related activities.