COVID-19 District Resources & Updates » School-Based COVID-19 Mitigation Plan

School-Based COVID-19 Mitigation Plan

Frankfort School District 157-C
School-Based COVID-19 Mitigation Plan
2021- 2022
Released July 30, 2021
*Revised September 21, 2021
Overview

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has fully adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidance for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools. The IDPH guidance recommends many school-based mitigation strategies as safety measures for staff and students. In response to the guidance from the IDPH, CDC, and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and a mandate by the Illinois Governor, this plan was developed by our Frankfort School District 157-C (FSD 157-C) Pandemic Response Team. The health and safety of our students, staff, and FSD 157-C community are the utmost priority to our District.

The mitigation measures contained within this plan recognize that it is impossible to completely eliminate that COVID-19 – or any other communicable disease – will be transmitted within the school environment. As such, this plan does not guarantee against potential transmission of COVID-19 in FSD 157-C schools. Rather, it reflects the District’s continued commitment to, and reasonable efforts aimed at, maintaining a safe and healthy educational environment, despite risks acknowledged by the CDC and the IDPH, among other health experts.

These mitigation strategies in this plan are based on the conditions that exist at the time the procedures are determined. If conditions change, the Superintendent is authorized to revise these procedures to address the changed conditions.

Compliance with Applicable Guidance
The Superintendent is authorized to revise these procedures as warranted to conform to mandates or recommendations from any entity with authority over the District (including, but not limited to, the Governor of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA), and the Will County Health Department, and/or as otherwise appropriate to facilitate the operation of the schools and the safety of students, staff, visitors, and other participants in the District’s programs. The Board will be notified promptly of any substantive changes to this plan.
 
References
The information, community health data, and guidance used to create this school-based mitigation plan was reviewed from:

Illinois State Board of Education
https://www.isbe.net/Pages/covid19.aspx

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – COVID Data Tracker
https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view

Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center (SOQIC) at Northwestern Medicine
http://covid-dashboard.fsm.northwestern.edu/

Mitigation Strategies
IDPH/CDC recommends various mitigation strategies for schools to implement to assist with prevention of COVID-19 spread. The subsequent list explains FSD 157-C's approach to implementing these mitigating protocols. ISBE does note that schools should not refrain from holding full, in-person learning for all student attendance days if mitigations are not able to be met to the exact specification listed in the guidance, e.g., social distancing specific requirements in all scenarios.
 
Masks
Per executive order of the Governor of Illinois, all students, staff, and visitors must wear a mask inside all K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Staff and students are not required to wear a mask outside.

Students are expected to cooperate with all IDPH safety protocols at school and school-related activities, including the use of face coverings. A person may be exempted from using a face covering if there is legitimate medical contraindication to its use. If you believe that your student has a medical condition that makes wearing a face covering contraindicated, please reach out to Jennifer Bajda, Director of Special Services, at jbajda@fsd157c.org to ask for the Certification of Medical Contraindication form.

Physical Distancing
Classroom teachers will make every effort to space students out at three feet, understanding that every classroom configuration, capacity and class size may vary. Because of these variables, we are unable to provide an exact number of feet between each student. Social distancing will also be applied when students eat lunch.

The District will follow Board-directed class size targets to the greatest extent possible. Reducing class sizes below those levels may not be possible due to lack of available space for additional classrooms and/or other reasons.

Cohorting will be applied in our schools as much as possible. Cohorting means keeping people together in a small group and having each group stay together throughout an entire day. Cohorting can be used to limit the number of students, teachers, and staff who encounter each other, especially when it is challenging to maintain physical distancing. Cohorting is more achievable at Grand Prairie and Chelsea than it is at Hickory Creek.

Handwashing
All FSD 157-C students will have considerable access to hand soap and hand sanitizer. Staff will assist students with hand sanitizing at several points in the day.

Respiratory Etiquette
Students will be reminded of proper respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes while following hand-hygiene protocols immediately thereafter.
 
Ventilation
The District will optimize the power of the HVAC system through use of air filtration in conjunction with regular maintenance to ensure outside air changes occur as much as possible, dependent on proper weather and air quality conditions. Other activities, including snack breaks, may take place outdoors, when possible.

Cleaning and Disinfection
Frankfort School District 157-C custodial teams will clean frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains, desks) within our three schools. The District will follow cleaning and disinfection best practices and procedures, to the greatest extent possible.

Screening Testing
Screening testing will not be utilized in Frankfort School District 157-C. However, all FSD 157-C students will have access to COVID-19 antigen test, BinaxNOW. This is a nasal swab test that can be administered in the nurse's office at each school. Parents must sign a consent form for their child to be tested for COVID-19 and be present during the time of the test. This test is not mandated but will be offered as a preventative measure when consenting families want their children tested due to the presence of COVID-19 symptoms. In certain scenarios, the BinaxNOW test can help students avoid quarantine. Please see the Contact tracing, Isolation, and Quarantine section below.

Health Screening
The District requires employees and students to stay home when they feel sick, have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing COVID-19 symptoms, or have recently had “close contact” with a person with COVID-19, including any household member. Parents must ensure their children are symptom free before sending them to school. Parents will be required to check their child’s symptoms each morning. Once verified that each child is symptom free, students should place the District-provided bracelet on their wrist to verify health status for the day. Staff at each building will monitor students as they come into school each morning, and symptom screen those that have forgotten to verify their health status. The list of symptoms parents should monitor daily are:
 
• New cough
• Shortness of breath
• Fatigue from an unknown cause
• Muscle and body aches from an unknown cause
• Sore throat
• New loss of taste or smell
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
New onset of moderate to severe headache

Contact Tracing, School Exclusion
Unfortunately, this mitigation strategy may require some students to be excluded from school, away from class, for periods of up to 10 school days.

Per the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or who tests positive for COVID-19, must be excluded from school for a period of up to 10 school days. The CDC defines a close contact as an individual not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 who was with within 3 feet when masks are universally mandated, and 6 feet when masks are not required, of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Building administration will work with teachers to identify, and communicate with, individuals who meet the CDC definition of “close contact.”

The IDPH states that any individual who has been fully vaccinated, and does not have symptoms, does not have to be excluded from school if identified as a close contact. However, individuals who are identified as a close contact and are vaccinated must remain out of school if presenting symptoms. They may return when their symptoms subside for 24 hours. All individuals will be required to submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination to the school nurse in order to avoid school exclusion after being identified as a close contact. Likewise, the IDPH states that a student or staff member who was previously diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last three months does not have to be excluded. See the most updated IDPH guidance related to Covid-19 symptoms, contact tracing, and exclusion at the link here. 

New this year, the District will have the option to utilize the Test-to-Stay Strategy for students to avoid exclusion in certain situations. As has been documented by CDC, if schools test close contacts, as defined above, on days one, three, five, and seven from the date of exposure by a PCR or rapid antigen or molecular emergency use authorization (EUA)-approved test, close contacts are permitted to remain in the classroom as long as the results are negative. As described in our testing section, the District will offer a COVID-19 rapid antigen test, BinaxNOW. This is a nasal swab test that can be administered in the nurse's office at each school. Parents must sign a consent form for their child to be tested for COVID-19 and be present during the time of the test. This test is not mandated. The Test-to-Stay mitigation layer is only applicable when both the COVID-19- confirmed student and close contact were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting masks, in the classroom setting, and the school requires masking for all individuals. Siblings who are close contacts of a positive individual in their household are not permitted to utilize Test-To-Stay per the Will County Health Department. Test-to-Stay is only applicable for students who are close contacts from an exposure in our schools. Students cannot test-to-stay if they are identified as a close contact outside of school to anyone else.

It is important that FSD 157-C students and families have confidence that learning will not be excessively impacted from school exclusion mandates from state or local health departments. This means having a clear plan for support during their time at home. For details on school exclusion notification, and returning to school after a exclusion, please see the Frankfort School District 157-C School Home Learning Plan for specific details, linked here.

School Notification of a Positive Test
Frankfort School District 157-C encourages staff and students/families to notify each school’s building nurse regarding any positive test result for COVID-19 with respect to any student or staff member.

School Transmission Surveillance
Following the IDPH/CDC guidelines, Frankfort School District 157-C will monitor positive cases at the three District schools. The administrative teams will review this information weekly to assess trends, anomalies, clusters, and indications of in-school transmission over the previous 7 days. Positive cases will be posted on the FSD 157-C website. Should increased mitigation be required due to an identified increase in COVID-19 cases in our schools, families will be notified.

School positivity data will be evaluated every Saturday. Prior to the start of each week, on the FSD 157-C website www.fsd157c.org a COVID-19 data chart will be posted. The data chart will indicate the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools. Positive cases on the website are not assumed to be linked to each other, which could indicate an outbreak, unless otherwise stated.

Communication with Staff, Parents, and Students
Consistent with privacy requirements, including those of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and in consultation with local health officials, FSD 157-C will provide notification to appropriate staff and parents regarding confirmed COVID-19 cases in our schools.


The community transmission and school positivity data will be evaluated every Saturday. Prior to the start of each week, on the FSD 157-C website www.fsd157c.org a COVID-19 data chart will be posted. The data chart will indicate the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools. Positive cases on the website are not assumed to be linked, unless otherwise stated.