Dear Huntley 158 Parents & Families,
I would like to provide you with an update regarding our planning process as we prepare for the start of the 2021-22 school year. Earlier today, Friday, July 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance that allows mask requirements to be lifted indoors for fully vaccinated students and staff. Following the CDC’s announcement, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) fully adopted the new guidance as stated below:
- Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.
- CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk.
- Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (masking, distancing, testing) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated.
Though this is an important and necessary first step to inform our planning for fall 2021, we are still awaiting further guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) regarding safety and school procedures such as transportation, lunch hours, common spaces, and more. Our District leadership team is currently reviewing these developments as they become public, and we continue to plan for a safe and enriching start to the year for all of our students. Though uncertainties remain, this change in the CDC and IDPH’s guidance underscores the impact of vaccinations on our ability to return to normalcy in our classrooms.
As we continue to plan and prepare for next year, we want to make you aware of additional public health resources throughout the community:
McHenry County Department of Health Webinar for Parents: COVID-19 Vaccinations
The McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) is holding two virtual webinars for local parents who have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine available to youth who are 12 to 17.
- Wednesday, July 14, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Featuring: Dr. Jon Kaufman, Pediatric Associates of Barrington, Dr. Lisa Messinger, Northwestern Medicine, and Dr. Laura Buthod, retired pediatrician and MCDH Medical Advisor
Viewers who attend the event will be able to submit questions via live chat, they are encouraged to submit them in advance by email to QA@mchenrycountyil.gov by July 12 by 4:30 p.m. Attendees will be able to access the virtual event at https://bit.ly/3wee1NB.
- For Spanish-speaking McHenry County residents:
Tuesday, July 20, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Featuring: Elizabeth Rios, a nurse practitioner for Community Health Partnership in Harvard, and Dr. Nathan Kakish, Northwestern Medicine.
Parents are encouraged to submit their questions in advance to QA@mchenrycountyil.gov by 4:30 p.m. on July 16. Attendees will be able to ask questions live and access the virtual event at https://bit.ly/2V1wYq2.
Those who are unable to attend either live event will be able to watch a recorded version of each event at http://bit.ly/mcdhCOVID19.
McHenry County Department of Health vaccination clinics are available to anyone aged 12 and older. To learn more about a clinic near you, visit the MCDH website here.
We understand that this period of preparation can be frustrating and that existing mitigation measures raise legitimate concerns about a successful return to full-time in-person learning for all of our students. Please know, as always, our goal is to provide our students and families with the environment, tools and care necessary to be successful. We will communicate details of our plan to return to school for the 2021-22 year as further guidance becomes available and as decisions are made.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding.
Scott Rowe, Ed.D.