From the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, Central’s instructional plans have included mitigation strategies to support in-person learning to the greatest extent possible in a safe learning environment. We succeeded in doing that, even when many other districts remained in remote status. Central’s COVID cases have been consistently low throughout this pandemic, which we believe is due in part to the mitigation measures put in place.

Over the last two years, our Central families have partnered with the district to keep their sick students home, while the district has implemented other mitigations that included updates to our HVAC systems and increased disinfection/sanitation during the day and each evening.  We have made minor adjustments to our plans to shift mitigations as conditions allowed for it, which included reducing quarantine and isolation times and test-to-stay protocols.  Throughout the pandemic, we have consistently followed the guidance provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Kane County Health Department, and the Executive Orders of the Governor. Based on the new ruling yesterday by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), all measures established by the IDPH have been suspended; however, the recommendations remain.

In light of the most recent JCAR ruling and based on the declining numbers of our positive cases, we have decided to move forward and implement the next phase of our mitigation plan. Based on Central 301’s metrics, (currently below 1% positivity), and our ability to successfully mitigate risk, we are confident that we are ready to adjust our mitigations while continuing to provide a safe learning environment for all.

Central 301 schools will shift the current mitigation strategies starting on Thursday, February 17, 2022, for the remainder of this school year. Beginning tomorrow, Thursday, February 17, 2022, we will move to “mask optional” for all students, staff, and visitors, in all Central 301 facilities. COVID positive students/employees will be required to be excluded from school and unvaccinated employees will no longer be required to test weekly.

Summary
Below is a summary of the changes to our mitigation strategies which will go into effect on Thursday, February 17, 2022.  

Masking
Due to the low rates of transmission and positivity rates (current rate is less than 1% district-wide) in the district, and to provide flexibility for families, staff, and visitors, we will shift to “mask optional” effective Thursday, February 17, 2022.

Bussing
Updated 2/28/2022 – Effective immediately, Central 301 will no longer require universal masking on school buses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated earlier today:

“Effective February 25, 2022, CDC is exercising its enforcement discretion to not require that people wear masks on buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including early care and education/child care programs. CDC is making this change to align with updated guidance that no longer recommends universal indoor mask wearing in K-12 and early education settings in areas with a low or medium COVID-19 Community Level.”

We understand that this email will be received by some with relief and others with anxiety. If you have a student that is at high risk, N95 masks are available at local retail locations such as Menards, Home Depot, and/or online via Amazon, Walgreens, CVS, etc. Please note that testing for COVID will remain available for those students who have opted in until further notice. If you would like to opt out or opt in for this service please follow the directions linked HERE. Please be aware that our existing handbook (pre-COVID) language regarding health/wellness will remain in effect. We ask that parents and staff remain diligent in monitoring their health and stay home when they are not feeling well.

The Central community has come together many times throughout the pandemic, and we know this is one more instance where we will serve as a model for other districts and communities in the way we overcome our differences and unite in our similar interests – especially our children. Please show each other grace and patience during this transition. Out of respect for your child(ren)’s teacher, there may be specific requests for students to mask due to personal reasons as we all transition to this changing environment. Whatever decision that each family, student, or staff member makes related to masking, we individually and collectively need to respect that decision.  We appreciate, in advance,  your willingness to honor and respect individual choices.