York administration believes no COVID-19 cases transmitted on campus
October 9, 2020
For the first time since March, York students are attending classes in-person. Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and English Learning (EL) students made their return on Sept. 14. Freshmen joined the hybrid schedule with “green schedule” students on the subsequent Monday, Sept. 21. Sophomores began hybrid learning Monday, Sept. 28, and juniors and seniors started Oct. 5. Elmhurst CUSD 205 is the first school district in DuPage county to reopen schools for in-person learning
“I am excited for getting back into the classroom, seeing a few more people from a distance, and feeling more productive,” junior Erin Lindgren said. “With Student Council, I have been helping with the freshmen and taking my classes from the learning commons. Being in the school environment has made me so much more productive, as I will work on homework when I finish other things for that class instead of being distracted, zoning out or texting my friends like I would at home. It’s incredible how much more work I get done at school than at home, which makes me really look forward to going hybrid – and hoping that we can get back to school full-time soon!”
The DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) dashboard reported Elmhurst currently is responsible for the most positive tests in a DuPage municipality in the last 14 days with 168 cases as of Oct. 9, surpassing Naperville (132 cases) and Addison (120 cases). As of Oct. 1, the York administration believes no cases have been contracted at York during the school day or athletic practices and games, citing outside transmissions from parties, large gatherings and the recent outbreak at Orange Theory.
“We have had numerous quarantines in athletics,” York Assistant Principal for Athletics Rob Wagner said. “When we quarantine, we quarantine large groups or pods of kids because that is the guidelines we need to follow. In all cases, as Mr. McGuire and Dr. Bagdasarian said, those transmissions, we feel, all happened outside of York. We have also had relatives or family members that tested positive and given it to students here. We have kept them home just to be safe in regards to other transmissions as well.”
According to the District 205 COVID-19 dashboard, as of Oct. 2, Elmhurst has a COVID-19 positivity rate of 6.1%. Based on DCHD requirements, the district may switch back to full remote learning if the municipality exceeds an 8% positivity rate for the week.
“If we get to the 8% mark we are at risk of being shut down where we would have to go back into remote fully for all students,” Principal Shahe Bagdasarian said. “We are not there, and that is why it is really important for the entire community including parents, teachers and students to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure we are following the guidelines set forth by the IDPH or the DuPage Health Department so that we do not put ourselves at that higher risk area of being closed down.”
The district issued safety guidelines informed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to protect students and staff from COVID-19. Before students or teachers can enter the building, they must self certify their temperature and health. Masks or face coverings must be worn while in the school building. Direction markers were placed on the floor to direct traffic. Classrooms were equipped with hand sanitizer and disinfectants for sanitation in between classes.
The District 205 Covid-19 dashboard reported a total of 46 positive student tests and nine positive teacher Covid-19 tests throughout the district on Oct. 9. The dashboard also indicates 1,236 student quarantines and 195 teacher quarantines. The district has not provided any numbers pertaining to positive cases in specific schools, including York. In the case of a student or faculty member testing positive for coronavirus, a contact tracing procedure was instituted to reduce the spread in the school. York’s procedure for contact tracing coincides with the IDPH guidelines. Students and teachers will only be notified if a person who tested positive was within six feet of the person for 15 minutes and not wearing masks. This extends to in and outside of the school building and hours.
“Local public health department staff work with a patient to help them recall everyone they have had close contact with during the time they may have been infectious,” the IDPH website said. “Local public health department staff begin contact tracing by notifying exposed people (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible, not revealing the infected patient’s identity.”
In order to curb the spread of coronavirus and keep in-person school back in session, the York administration encourages students, teachers and community members to follow social distancing guidelines laid out by the state. They also encourage students to communicate with their teachers and counselors for an effective school year- no matter the current learning model.
“We continue to encourage students to reach out to the teachers,” Bagdasarian said. “Make sure they let them know what they need if they are not getting what they need; that is really important. We want to make sure we are meeting the needs of our students, but we also need that communication from our students at York to make sure we are giving them the best education possible. I want to just encourage students to continue to maintain that open communication with teachers.”