Dear Huntley 158 Parents & Families,
We would like to share some important information with you regarding updates in Huntley 158, the state of Illinois, and across the country. Thank you in advance for your attention to these important topics.
COVID-19 Testing Opportunities in Huntley 158
As we move further into the school year, we would like to provide our families with an up to date overview of the COVID-19 testing options available to our students and staff in Huntley 158. Throughout the semester, we have been able to provide the opportunity for weekly testing through the SHIELD program, and have also acquired the resources to add a Test-to-Stay option at each campus. We’re encouraged to announce that Huntley 158 will now be able to provide voluntary BinaxNOW testing for our students, in addition to the options already in place.
The Abbott BinaxNOW test is administered through an anterior nose swab that is then inserted into a credit-card sized test. These tests are at no cost to families with results available within 15 minutes. With parental consent, they can be administered by our fully trained nursing staff in the case of a student becoming symptomatic during the school day. The availability of these resources gives us another opportunity to keep students in school whenever possible. If a student is experiencing a symptom of COVID-19 during the school day, parents will be notified of their child’s symptoms and will be given the option to provide electronic consent for the BinaxNOW test via our testing opt-in form. If a student receives a negative test result, they will be allowed to remain in school. Families who are not currently enrolled in our SHIELD testing program may provide consent for BinaxNOW separately. Parental consent must be obtained prior to testing being administered.
Please note, COVID-19 testing is still voluntary for all of our students. No student is required to participate in any form of testing on our campus; however, these resources do provide a safe and effective way to limit periods of quarantine and monitor the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Please see below for a complete list of the testing options available to you and your students:
- Weekly SHIELD Testing
- SHIELD testing is available and conducted once a week for all interested students. This testing program plays a key role in monitoring transmission of COVID-19 in our schools.
- Test-to-Stay SHIELD Testing Stations
- Huntley 158 offers a Test-to-Stay testing station on each of our three campuses. These testing stations use SHIELD saliva tests that can be administered in-district for students who are eligible for the Test-to-Stay program. Please see last week’s message for more details on the availability of the Test-to-Stay program based on updated MCDH guidance.
- Please note, the availability of the Test-to-Stay programs may be limited during an outbreak situation or rates of substantial/high community transmission. The McHenry County Health Department may make recommendations determining which options should be available to students based on these factors.
- BinaxNOW COVID-19 Testing with Huntley 158 Nursing Staff
- Please visit our website for an FAQ with more details regarding BinaxNOW tests.
Parents can find our electronic opt in form here. This single form gives families the choice to provide consent for SHIELD testing, BinaxNOW testing, or both. If you have any questions about the testing procedures or options across the district, please email [email protected].
Vaccination Update: CDC Recommends Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine for Children 5-11
On Tuesday, November 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccination for children ages 5-11. According to the CDC, “Distribution of pediatric vaccinations across the country started this week, with plans to scale up to full capacity starting the week of November 8th. Vaccines will be available at thousands of pediatric healthcare provider offices, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and more.”
If you are interested in your child receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, please visit the McHenry County Department of Health’s website for available vaccination locations in our community. At this time, Huntley 158 does not have plans to host an in-district vaccination clinic for students. This decision is based on the widespread availability of the vaccine at this time, as well as the McHenry County Department of Health’s commitment to schools to ensure vaccinations will be easily accessible for anyone who wishes to be vaccinated. For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations available for children and teens, click here.
As we continue to evaluate the levels of community transmission of COVID-19, in addition to the availability of vaccinations, we are aware of potential modifications to our current mitigation strategies across our buildings. Beyond Governor Pritzker’s mask mandate for Illinois schools, we will continue to explore the safest and most effective options for our students and staff within our Return to School framework established in August 2021. A change in our framework is not imminent, however, we recognize re-evaluating our framework is a logical next step in order to prepare for any necessary change prior to the lifting of the Governor’s mask mandate. Any adjustments made will be presented to our Board of Education for approval. As always, we appreciate our families patience as we work to navigate the changing circumstances in our schools and communities.
With your help, we are continuing to find ways to prioritize safe and consistent in-person learning for all of our students.
Scott Rowe, Ed.D.