Dear Huntley 158 Staff & Families,
During yesterday’s Board of Education meeting, our administration presented Huntley 158’s most up to date Forward Together: 2021-22 Return to School Guide. This revised plan comes after updated guidelines from the CDC regarding COVID-19 mitigations to be used in community settings, including public schools, as well as Governor Pritzker’s announcement to lift the mask mandate in Illinois schools, effective February 28, 2022. To review Dr. Rowe’s Superintendent’s Report to the Board, click here.
Please take a moment to review our revised plan and its impact on our mitigation strategies via the attached document, or at this link here. This plan is set to be approved at the next regular Board of Education meeting on March 17 and will take effect upon approval. In the interim, masking will continue to be strongly recommended in schools and on the bus. Some of the most important and notable changes to our plan and public health guidance are outlined below.
Updated CDC Guidance
On February 25, 2022, the CDC released updated guidance for all community settings, including public schools. This guidance reflects a revised framework of community- level prevention strategies that correspond with three tiers of COVID-19 community levels (Low, Medium and High), determined by county. According to the CDC, community levels are classified using a “combination of three metrics — new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days — to determine the COVID-19 community level”.
According to this data, McHenry County is currently at a Low COVID-19 community level. The recommended community-level prevention strategies for areas at a Low community level are as follows, per the CDC:
- Allow access to COVID-19 vaccines
- Provide access to COVID-19 testing
- Maintain improved ventilation in public indoor spaces
Proposed COVID-19 Mitigations in Huntley 158
On February 17, 2022, a new COVID-19 decision making and mitigation framework was proposed and presented to the Board of Education for discussion. This plan has now been updated to reflect the most recent CDC guidance and will be approved on March 17 at our next Board of Education meeting.
Huntley 158 will continue to engage the following COVID-19 mitigation strategies in our buildings. Please view the most up to date Mitigation Zones associated with COVID-19 Risk Level here.
- Masking as a Mitigation:
- Masking will be optional, recommended, or strongly recommended for all students, staff and visitors in Huntley 158 schools and on school buses based upon the district’s response metrics and level of risk associated with COVID-19.
- Huntley 158 is currently in a zone of Low Risk for COVID-19, meaning that after Board approval on March 17, mask wearing will be optional for all students and staff in schools and on the bus.
- Physical distance of at least 3 feet is maintained in classrooms and space is maximized in cafeterias and common spaces during lunch to the greatest extent possible.
- Free SHIELD COVID-19 saliva testing and BinaxNOW tests are available to monitor transmission in schools.
- Hand sanitizing stations are available in all classrooms and common areas.
- Routine cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces is performed in all buildings.
- Enhanced filters have been added to HVAC systems for improved ventilation and cleaner air output.
- All students and staff should stay home when sick or showing symptoms.
District Response Metrics & Action Plan:
As part of our updated decision making framework and revised COVID-19 mitigations, Huntley 158 has identified key Response Metrics based on public health guidance to reflect a more comprehensive understanding of COVID-19 and its impact on our school system. These metrics have been identified using guidance from public health organizations including the CDC, IDPH and MCDH in the following areas: disease transmission, vaccination rate, strain on schools and community.
- Huntley 158 Metrics – View the District-Wide Dashboard
- Active Positive Cases
- In-District Positivity Rate
- Strain on Schools: availability of staff, presence of outbreaks, positivity rate
- McHenry County Metrics
- Community Transmission
- County Vaccination Rate
- Strain on Community: hospitalizations, capacity of public health system
What is the process for deciding if a change needs to be made to the district’s Mitigation Zone?
The district will use all of the metrics listed above in tandem to inform the need for a change in mitigation measures. If metrics shift towards higher rates of transmission of COVID-19 (i.e. high in-district positivity rate, increase in hospitalizations, high and/or increasing community transmission, or a significant number of outbreaks identified by the McHenry County Department of Health in our schools), then the district leadership team will work in consultation with our local health officials to determine if a change is warranted.
How will I be informed if a change is being made?
The district will communicate any changes in our mitigation strategy with staff and families as soon as it becomes necessary. Staff and families can expect communication from the superintendent via our mass notification system by email, text or phone call and through our website at huntley158.org.
Will this be a district-wide decision?
Yes, mitigation measures will be reflected across the entire district.
Volunteering in Huntley 158 Schools
We are eager to welcome back our parents and volunteers to enrich our students’ classroom experience while maintaining a safe in-person learning environment for all of our students, staff and community members. All volunteers should review and be aware of these safety considerations before entering Huntley 158 buildings.
If you are aware of an opportunity to volunteer in your student(s)’ building and would like to do so, please reach out to your child’s classroom teacher or building principal and they will guide you in the next steps of the district’s volunteering process.
I want to sincerely thank all of our students, staff members and parents for the work you’ve done in allowing us to reach this stage of teaching and learning during the pandemic. I am hopeful that this most recent public health guidance and our district’s plan is a continuation of our path back to normalcy and a fruitful educational environment for all of our students. Though the work is not done, we would not be in this position without the tireless efforts and understanding of our entire community. Thank you for making Huntley 158 such a special place to be.
If you have any questions about Huntley 158’s updated plan or mitigation framework, please email [email protected]
Scott Rowe, Ed.D.