COVID-19 Procedures at Illinois Lutheran Schools

These guidelines have been set down by the Illinois State Board of Education in connection with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC. These procedures deal with what actions should be taken in the event that a student or staff member exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19. Please read through the various questions and answers listed below to gain a full understanding of the procedures we will be following here at school to protect all of our students, staff and families. If we follow these procedures closely, we should be able to keep our students healthy and our schools open for face to face instruction.

As in all of these cases, you as the parents will be our first line of defense in this battle against COVID-19. No one knows their child’s heath better than you. We need you to screen your child each day before they come to school. We are in the process of developing a quick app for your phone that will aid you in this effort. We will continue to follow our screening procedures when students, parents, and visitors enter the school. Above all, continue to pray for the well-being of all our school families. May God bless our school year.

If you have a question about these procedures, please call the office at 708.672.3262.

What you need to know:

  • Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms.
  • Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
  • Per the information that is outlined in this email, 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 Mrs. Oestmann at 708.672.5969
    • 7th Grade – 12th Grade: Call Mrs. Kernagis at 708.672.3262
  • Per the information outlined below, if anyone in the household has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, your child must remain home for 14 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:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Management of Students and Staff:

What actions should be taken by students/staff sent home with COVID-like symptoms? (Updated 8/13/20)

  • 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.
  • Students and staff who are confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 must complete 10 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.
  • 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 10 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.

REMEMBER: Students who must stay at home can participate in remote learning. For those who are able to participate in eLearning. Attached are the instructions for getting online for classes. Elementary school parents should reach out to their child’s teacher.

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 14 calendar days?

Yes, if one of the household members is being evaluated for COVID-19, the rest of the household must be quarantined until an alternative diagnosis is made or negative result received. If the sick student becomes a confirmed case (i.e., tests positive for COVID-19) or a probable case (i.e., has COVID-like symptoms and is epidemiologically linked to known case), the local health department conducting contact tracing will place household contacts, including siblings, in quarantine for 14 calendar days. The health department also will provide guidance on how to safely quarantine and isolate within the household.

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?

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, sneezing), persons with briefer periods of exposure may also be considered contacts. Close contacts to a confirmed case of COVID-19 are required to remain in quarantine at home for 14 calendar days starting from the last day of contact with the confirmed case.

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.

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 PPE is required to work in or attend school?

All persons on school grounds including students, teachers, school nurses, administrative and secretarial staff, food service personnel, custodial staff, public safety personnel, etc., must wear a face covering at all times when in school or in transit to and from school via group conveyance (i.e., school buses), unless a specific exemption applies

What is the primary purpose of a face covering?

The primary purpose of a face covering is to prevent the wearer from potentially exposing or infecting others. To be effective, face coverings must be worn properly and must completely cover both the nose and mouth.

How should cloth face coverings be cleaned and stored?

Personal cloth face coverings should be taken home, laundered daily, dried in a dryer, and reused. Personal cloth face coverings should be stored between uses in a clean sealable paper bag or breathable container.

When should a face covering be changed?

Face coverings must be changed immediately if soiled, wet, or torn.

Can face coverings be removed at certain times?

Yes – face coverings may be temporarily removed at school:

  • When eating.
  • When outdoors and physical distancing of at least 6 feet can be maintained.
  • When playing a musical instrument outdoors with at least 6 feet social distancing.
  • Strict adherence to social distancing should be maintained when face coverings are removed in limited situations.

School Closure:

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 shortterm 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.

Travel Restrictions:

Are there any current domestic or international travel restrictions for which we should be monitoring and excluding students and staff?

There is widespread, ongoing transmission of novel coronavirus worldwide.

  • Anyone who has traveled internationally in the past 14 calendar days should stay home and monitor their health.
  • There is no current statewide guidance in Illinois for quarantining domestic travelers.
  • However, some counties or municipalities do require or recommend 14 calendar days of quarantine for travelers returning from states with high community prevalence of COVID-19.
  • IDPH does receive frequent notifications of travel related exposures. If public health is notified that a student or staff member is a contact to a COVID-19 case as a result of travel, quarantine for 14 calendar days will be required.

Directions for Remote Learning at Illinois Lutheran Schools

Illinois Department of Public Health FAQs

Illinois State Board of Education & Illinois Department of Public Health School Opening Guide