What you need to know:
- These guidelines have been established by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control, not Illinois Lutheran Schools. We understand that there are a wide range of opinions on how to best approach mitigations and strategies regarding the pandemic. The state has mandated that schools follow the protocols contained here.
- Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms.
- Keep your child home while they are sick. Symptomatic students will be sent home.
- If your child exhibits any of the symptoms listed below while in school, they will be isolated and you will be contacted. They will need to be taken home and you will need to follow the procedures listed below. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms before the start of the school day, please do not send them to school. Contact the school office and notify the secretary.
- PreK – 6th Grade: Call 708.672.5969
- 7th Grade – 12th Grade: Call 708.672.3262
- If anyone in the household has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, vaccinated students may return to school and are encouraged to take a COVID test 5 to 7 days after exposure. Unvaccinated students must remain home for 10 days after the last close contact with the confirmed case.
- If a student contracts COVID-19 during quarantine, procedures will change. Please contact the office at 708.672.3262 for more information.
Watch for symptoms:
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- New loss of sense of taste or smell
- Muscle or body aches
Management of Students and Staff:
What actions should be taken by students/staff sent home with COVID-like symptoms?
- All students and staff sent home with COVID-like symptoms (see list above) should be diagnostically tested. The individual should remain home from school until they receive the test results. Illinois Lutheran currently provides antigen tests for use with students and staff. Students may use these tests with parental consent.
- Students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, who are confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 must complete 5 calendar days of isolation from the date of first symptom onset or whenever a positive test result is received (whichever comes first) and be fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications and other symptoms have improved before returning to school. For the next five days, they should avoid being around others who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease. If masks need to be removed (ie. lunch), 6 feet of physical distancing must be maintained.
- Students and staff returning to school after experiencing COVID-like symptoms but being diagnosed with a non-COVID illness must meet the criteria for returning to school for the illness with which they have been diagnosed. At a minimum, the individual must be fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and have had no diarrhea or vomiting in the previous 24 hours. Other diseases have specific criteria for when a student or staff member can return to school. Follow school health policies and communicable disease guidance for those illnesses. A doctor’s note documenting the alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test result should accompany a student or staff member returning to school with an alternative diagnosis after experiencing COVID-like symptoms.
- Students and staff with COVID-like symptoms who do not get tested for COVID-19 and who do not provide a healthcare provider’s note documenting an alternative diagnosis, must complete 5 calendar days of isolation from the date of first symptom onset and be fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications and other symptoms have improved before returning to school.
- Medical evaluation and COVID-19 diagnostic testing is strongly recommended for all persons with COVID-like symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions:
If a student is sent home sick with suspected COVID-19 symptoms (see list above), must all their siblings/household members be sent home as well and quarantined for 10 calendar days?
Vaccinated students may remain in school unless they develop symptoms. Unvaccinated students will need to be sent home until an alternate diagnosis is received.
If the student with symptoms receives a negative result on an antigen test provided by the school, the siblings and other household members may remain at school.
How many symptoms does a person need to have to be considered suspect COVID-19?
Students and staff exhibiting one or more COVID-like symptoms should be immediately isolated, and evaluated. Schools should evaluate each student/staff to determine if this symptom is new or if it is part of an existing condition for this student/staff.
Our current school policy recommends sending children home with a temperature of 100.0 F or greater. The ISBE and CDC guidance both say 100.4 F or greater. Which will Illinois Lutheran Schools use?
For consistency with CDC and Illinois Joint Guidance for Schools, Illinois Lutheran will use 100.4 F as the threshold for fever.
If the sick person has a known condition causing the symptoms, e.g., allergies, migraine, etc., can this be taken into consideration?
Yes, these are considered a student’s “baseline”. The student and parent should be aware of how the student usually feels and if there are new symptoms accompanying the baseline symptoms, or if the usual symptoms feel differently.
Every symptomatic person should be evaluated by their healthcare provider on a case-by-case basis and decisions to test for COVID-19 should be based on their personal health history. Diagnostic testing is strongly encouraged whenever an individual experiences COVID-like symptoms as it is possible to have COVID-19 and other health conditions at the same time. Early diagnosis can prevent further transmission. Individuals who have undergone testing should remain home away from others while waiting for COVID-19 test results.
Contacts to Cases:
What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. In general, contact tracing involves identifying people who have a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 (cases) and people who they came in contact with (close contacts) and working with them to interrupt disease spread. This includes asking people with COVID-19 to isolate and their contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.
Who is a close contact?
A close contact is anyone (with or without a face covering) who was within 6 feet of a confirmed case of COVID-19 (with or without a face covering), for at least 15 minutes throughout the course of a day. The period of close contact begins 2 calendar days before the onset of symptoms (for a symptomatic person) or 2 calendar days before the positive sample was obtained (for an asymptomatic person). If the case was symptomatic (e.g., coughing, fever), persons with briefer periods of exposure may also be considered contacts. Close contacts who are vaccinated may remain in school and are encouraged to receive a COVID test 5 to 7 days after exposure. Unvaccinated students will have the choice of the following:
- Quarantine for 5 days at home unless symptoms develop.
- “Test to Stay”. This option is for unvaccinated students who have not been exposed in the home. Students may come to school and receive a COVID test on days 1, 3, and 5 after exposure. Students may remain in school with negative results. Again, the “test to stay” option is not available if someone in the household has a case of COVID-19.
Who will do contact tracing?
Contact tracing will be performed by the local health department, sometimes in partnership with DPH or a community-based organization. However, schools can assist the local health department by identifying all close contacts with a confirmed case. Executive Director Duane Vance is the contact for the health department at both campuses.
Is contact tracing only performed when a positive test is received?
Contact tracing is performed for a confirmed case (laboratory confirmed positive) or a probable case (person with clinically compatible COVID-like symptoms and epidemiologically linked known exposure) to a confirmed case or testing positive by an antigen test.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
What is ILS’s policy on face coverings?
On Friday, February 4, 2022, a Sangamon County Circuit judge issued a temporary restraining order against the mask mandate in schools in Illinois. While this order is in place, ILS will operate in a mask optional/mask friendly environment. We encourage any faculty, students, parents, and visitors to continue the use of face coverings as they are comfortable. However, the choice to use a face covering will now be up to the individual as universal masking will no longer be enforced.
If there is a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 within a school, what are the recommendations for school closure?
Decisions for temporary closure of a school will be made by school leaders in consultation with the local health department during its investigation of a case or cluster of cases. If the local health department determines that there is a risk to the school community, the school may be closed temporarily for cleaning and disinfection. This initial short-term dismissal allows time for the local health officials to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 situation impacting the school. This also allows the local health officials to help the school determine appropriate next steps, including whether an extended dismissal duration is needed to stop or slow further spread of COVID-19.
Are there alternative strategies to school closure that may be considered or employed?
Alternative strategies, less drastic than closure, might include:
- Quarantining the affected classroom where social distancing is challenging (e.g. early childhood).
- Suspending affected classes or closing playgrounds.
- Canceling non-essential activities and meetings.
- Keeping students in constant class groups or classrooms and moving teachers routinely between classes.
- Increasing spacing between students in classes.
- Shortening the school week.
- Staggering school start and lunch/break times across year groups or classes.