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Dear Huntley 158 Parents & Families:

We would like to provide you with an update as we continue to navigate the changing circumstances and rising levels of COVID-19 in our community. In addition to these updates, we also want to provide you with information and resources to maintain a successful start of the year for your student(s) and family. While we know there is a great deal of information for parents to consume, most of which is ever-changing, we appreciate you taking the time to read and review these important updates.

Updated McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) Guidance
McHenry County is now experiencing high transmission of COVID-19. Due to the increased transmission, MCDH has updated the P-12 Interim School Guidance regarding the quarantine options available to our students. Please take a moment to review these revisions from MCDH in our Return to School guidebook with revisions reflected in red. Please also note the following reminders about quarantine and contact tracing as it relates to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals:

  • If your student becomes symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19, they are required to isolate immediately, regardless of vaccination status. The quarantine options are only available to students and staff who are identified as a close contact:
    • A close contact is defined as an unvaccinated individual who was exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 within 3 feet (if consistent and correct mask wearing was in place) for a cumulative period of 15 minutes over a period of 24 hours.
  • Vaccinated individuals with no symptoms who are deemed a close contact in the classroom do not have to quarantine. Per the CDC and MCDH, testing is recommended 3-5 days after exposure.
  • Quarantine options 1-4 provided by IDPH and MCDH are available only for COVID-19 exposures that occur in school. All COVID-19 exposures that occur outside of the school setting are handled by the local health department on a case-by-case basis. In general, exposures that occur outside of school will require a 14 calendar day quarantine. However, if MCDH deems a modified quarantine is appropriate for your child, please notify the school.
  • NOTE: The McHenry County Department of Health may determine the use of modified quarantine options (options 2-4) in all cases of exposure.

Stay Home When Sick: COVID-19 Symptoms
If your student(s) is experiencing any of the following symptoms and has not been tested, please keep them home from school. We understand the desire to keep children in school, but must be mindful of doing our part to manage transmission in schools. Practicing proper isolation when sick can minimize the spread and keep more students in our classrooms. COVID-19 symptoms include, but are not limited to: 

  • Fever (100.4 degrees or higher)
  • New onset of moderate to severe headache
  • New cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue from unknown cause
  • Muscle or body aches from unknown cause
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Transportation Update
As you know, our community, like many others, has felt the impact of the national bus driver shortage, an issue that has been heavily publicized over the course of the pandemic. We are encouraged to report that we have begun the year with enough bus drivers to provide all of our students with the transportation services they need. However, every start to the school year brings with it a few challenges and expected delays. At this time, we are working to appropriately distribute our drivers across all routes and make any necessary adjustments to avoid delays. The transportation department will be working next week on adjusting the secondary routes that we have identified to have high ridership counts, with the goal of these changes to be implemented after Labor Day. If your student’s route information will change, you will be contacted by a representative from the transportation department prior to this change. This process takes time, and we appreciate your continued patience and ongoing support. Our priority remains getting all of our students to and from school in a safe and timely manner.

SHIELD Testing Reminders
If you want your student(s) to participate in weekly SHIELD testing, please remember to opt in via this electronic form. Opting in to the SHIELD testing program means that your student(s) will be tested once a week at school, beginning August 30. This test will take approximately 5 minutes and will allow us to track transmission in our buildings. If your student is unvaccinated and deemed a close contact in the classroom, they may be eligible for the Test-to-Stay strategy, as determined by the McHenry County Department of Health. If your child is eligible for the Test-to-Stay strategy, you will be contacted by the school nurse to discuss the process. 

We are aware that SHIELD has experienced technical difficulties while managing portal access for parents and staff. We apologize for this inconvenience. Our vendor has supplied an alternative parent code in response to these issues:

  • For students younger than 18 years old, please use the following code to create an account on the parent portal: df5brbrj.
  • For students 18 & older and staff, please use the following code to create an account on the parent portal: j860k8iy.
  • When adding dependent(s), please enter the student(s)’ Last Name, First Name, DOB, zip code and student email for each child/dependent.

SmartSocial: Ensuring Digital Safety for Students
Huntley 158 has partnered with SmartSocial to give our parents in-depth access to resources, webinars, and tools to help ensure your students’ safety online in an increasingly digital world. Technology touches all of us in different ways. Every Huntley 158 student has a chromebook issued by the school, increasing our responsibility to be diligent partners to protect them online. We have internet filters and safety mechanisms built into our network at school, however, there are ways to bypass any filter, and we recognize the need to work together to ensure our students’ safety online. SmartSocial is a great way for you to support healthy online behaviors with your children. Parent courses will teach you how to approach these conversations and recommend guidelines you can institute at home to create healthy online habits and limits. By signing up for your FREE account, you can register for upcoming events that cover popular social media apps like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Twitter, and offer resources to help your student shine online! Please consider signing up for your free account today, and register for the next Parent Webinar on Wednesday, September 1 to learn the hidden safety features of TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, Discord, Fortnite, and more. 

Huntley 158’s Virtual Job Fair
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about current job openings in Huntley 158, please consider signing up to attend our first Virtual Job Fair on either Thursday, September 2 or Thursday, September 9 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Sign up for a time slot to speak with a district representative about positions such as paraprofessionals, bus drivers, food service staff, and more here. Consider joining the Huntley 158 team!

Thank you for your endurance through the first days of the school year! We appreciate your teamwork and cooperation as we work to ensure our students remain healthy, safe, and learning in the classroom. 

Thank you,

Scott Rowe, Ed.D.