February 26, 2021
Dear District 2 and District 157 Students, Parents, and Guardians:
I hope this letter finds you and your family healthy and looking forward to warmer weather as we approach spring. I want to take a moment to provide an update on the work being done to get our students back into a full in-person learning model. I also want to reiterate that when we do return to full in person learning, parents and guardians will continue to have the option for their student to remain in remote learning.
At this time, we continue to follow the guidance of the IDPH and MCDH when deciding the type of learning model we should utilize. The latest recommendations and guidance from those agencies focuses heavily on ensuring our enhanced school mitigations are in place. Those mitigations include: maintaining six feet of space between students, daily health screenings, requiring masks, proper air ventilation and ensuring good hand washing methods while at school.
Recent evidence has shown that when these mitigations are followed, the risk of COVID-19 spreading in schools is minimal. However, the IDPH and MCDH continue to reinforce to schools they need six feet of distance between students. Both District 2 and District 157 will continue to work with the MCDH on this issue. Our recommendation to the MCDH is that they follow CDC guidance and move to the recommendation of 6 feet or to the greatest extent possible for social distancing. This change would give school districts local control over this issue and allow our two districts to decide what is best at a given point in time for our students. All other mitigations mentioned above would not change, and would continue to be implemented with fidelity.
The safety and health of our staff also remains a priority, the County Superintendents and the MCDH have developed a plan to administer the second dose of the vaccine to all school employees in McHenry County on March 11. Those receiving the second dose of the vaccine will have the highest level of protection against COVID-19 within two weeks of receiving their second dose. Considering all this information, the earliest time frame for a potential return to full in-person learning is early April after spring break.
Please remember, for any potential full in-person learning to occur, the community case numbers and positivity rate must remain low. If we see a significant rise or spike in community COVID-19 numbers, we would need to maintain a hybrid learning model. Over the past year, we have seen the ability of COVID-19 to quickly spread and cause surges in communities. It remains crucial we do not have a repeat of this if we are to return to a full in-person learning model this year.
We ask that you and your student continue to help support our getting back into school full time by wearing a mask when appropriate, avoiding large gatherings inside, and practicing good hand hygiene. These three simple behaviors will support the continuation of the low community COVID-19 numbers.
As more information and specific details become available, both District 2 and D157 will continue to communicate all new information with the community. Next week you will receive a short survey regarding a potential return to full in person learning. We ask that you take a few minutes to complete it in order to provide us with needed feedback.
At this time, we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to move forward with a full return to school in the near future, but we ask for your continued patience and support as we navigate through this unprecedented time.
Dr. Tom Lind, Superintendent