Just days after the Oak Park Health Department unveiled new COVID-19 guidance for schools following an increase in cases, one village school district’s board announced its own actions to help reduce the spread of the virus.
In an emergency meeting Friday, Elementary School District 97 voted to require masks on field trips and for those who attend indoor events inside school buildings, including graduation ceremonies. Schools will also try to move indoor activities outside as much as possible.
“Right now our status is at medium, but I remember when we were at low, so clearly our status is increasing, and before we get to high, where we have to take stronger measures, not just in schools, but in the entire village, said Venus Hurd Johnson, referring to the three COVID-19 community levels as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The changes come as both the school district and village see an uptick in cases.
“If Oak Park is looking at numbers and going back to what was keeping kids and teachers safe, I think it is a really good idea,” stated parent Michol Whitney.
The Oak Park Health Department reported 158 positive cases between those age 5 to 13 last week.
With the boost in cases, some parents are calling on the district to do more.
“I think they need to take more drastic measures and implement the mask mandate again,” said parent Milon Stovall.
“I think we are not out of this yet, and we have to be safe,” said another spokesperson, Yvonne Judice.
Under the new COVID guidance unveiled earlier this week, schools should immediately begin contract tracing after being notified of a COVID case. All close contacts should be notified within 24 hours, according to the recommendations.
Individuals identified as close contacts are advised to take part in bi-weekly SHIELD COVID testing. Furthermore, anyone who tests positive is encouraged to isolate for a minimum of five days and wear a high-quality mask for 10 days following an infection, health officials added.