Revised IDPH Guidance for Schools: What You Need To Know
Recently, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released updated guidance for schools in relation to in-person learning and COVID-19.
The revised guidance from IDPH/ISBE continues to express the existing mandate for mask usage inside schools along with other prevention strategies including contact tracing. Further, it requires school districts to continue excluding students who are confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, close contacts of positive cases, or have possible symptoms of COVID-19.
IDPH/ISBE did put forward a change for students who are presenting possible symptoms of COVID-19. Students who display possible symptoms, and are not a known close contact to a positive case, are to be tested within 48 hours of showing symptoms or, if testing is not performed, remain out of school for 10 calendar days. In regards to siblings of a symptomatic student, IDPH/ISBE allow siblings to remain at school if the symptomatic student is tested within 24 hours of presenting symptoms and is not a suspected close contact provided that test results are received.
This change does impact our protocol and we want to provide you with an update. These changes will go into effect on Monday, October 4, 2021.
What District 300 will continue to do:
School nursing staff will evaluate students who are sick at school. If your child is sick while at school, please make sure to speak with a school nurse before your child leaves the school.
We will continue to contact those individuals who are deemed as close contacts from the school setting, informing families of the recommended guidelines per public health.
We will continue to offer early release options from school exclusion for situations occurring at school in cooperation with the Perry County Health Department. As originally shared on September 6, 2021, these options currently include:
Exclusion for 10 calendar days after the close contact’s last exposure to the COVID-19 case. Date of last exposure is considered day 0. The individual may end quarantine/exclusion after day 10 if no symptoms of COVID-19 developed during daily monitoring. Daily monitoring through day 14 will occur through e-mail or text message surveys from the health department sent to the primary point of contact provided by the parent/guardian. Completion of these daily surveys is required as part of the early release option.
Exclusion for 7 calendar days after the last exposure if:
No symptoms developed during daily monitoring AND the individual has a negative SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test (PCR) that was collected within 48 hours of exposure day 7 (starting on day 6 or after).Daily monitoring through day 14 will occur through e-mail or text message surveys from the health department sent to the primary point of contact provided by the parent/guardian. Completion of these daily surveys is required as part of the early release option.
The individual is responsible for obtaining a copy of the negative results from the testing facility for documentation purposes.
NOTE: In the revised guidance, IDPH/ISBE have clarified that close contacts are to be out of sports competition for 14 days regardless of the early release options made available. Limited participation in extra-curricular clubs/sports may resume on day 11 as long as physical distancing can be maintained and masking occurs.
We will continue to consider documented chronic health conditions when evaluating symptomatic individuals who are not known close contacts to positive cases.
What will change:
Per IDPH/ISBE, students who are symptomatic, but not close contacts, will need to COVID-test within 48 hours of presenting/reporting symptoms or will be excluded from school for 10 calendar days.
Per IDPH/ISBE, siblings/household members of students who are symptomatic, but not close contacts, will be able to remain at school as long as the symptomatic student is tested within 24 hours.
Given the above change from the state-level which increases testing expectations for students, we are investigating options for rapid testing of symptomatic individuals in our schools. In the meantime, the Rea Clinic in Du Quoin has rapid testing available to families each weekday during their regular hours of 8:00 AM-5:00 PM. This testing is submitted to family health insurance, but there is no out-of-pocket cost to families. Testing at Rea Clinic simply requires calling ahead. To access the Rea Clinic’s COVID-hotline dial (618)542-8702 then press #.
Please keep your child at home if they are experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19 and/or have pending COVID test results and inform your child’s school. Possible symptoms of COVID-19 include:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Nursing staff can answer questions about chronic health conditions and the return to school. Families of students who are a close contact to a positive case at school will be contacted by school nursing staff about the options for returning to school.
If you have questions or concerns related to a situation involving COVID-19 and your child, please contact your child’s school and the school nursing staff. If you have questions or concerns about the new guidance please reach out to IDPH at their COVID-hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or the Perry County Health Department at (618) 357-5371.
Guidance Chart for Close Contacts & Symptomatic Individuals:
Close contacts to a positive case
Exclusion from school for 14 days unless early release options are possible. See below.
Must be tested within 48 hours. If testing is not performed, then the individual must remain out of school for 10 calendar days.
Early release back to school is possible if the close contact occurred at school and no symptoms are present, provided that symptoms are monitored daily. (This can occur on day 11 without testing, or earlier if a negative PCR test is obtained on day 6 or after.)
If tested and the result is positive, then the individual will be out of school for 10 calendar days.
If tested and the result is negative, then the individual will remain out of school until fever-free for 24 hours w/o fever reducing medication, 48 hours after diarrhea/vomiting have ceased, and symptoms have improved.
If an early release option is utilized, limited participation in extra-curricular clubs/sports may resume on day 11 as long as physical distancing can be maintained and masking occurs. This does not include attending as a spectator.
There is no sports competition for the full 14 days.
Unvaccinated siblings/household members of the symptomatic student are excluded from school unless the sick individual is tested for COVID within 24 hours of symptoms presenting.
Fully vaccinated students are not considered close contacts and are not excluded from school if they remain symptom free. It is recommended that fully vaccinated students test 3-5 days after exposure to a positive case.
If the sick individual tests positive, then any unvaccinated siblings/household members will be excluded from school as close contacts.
Students in a classroom who are correctly masked and at least 3 feet apart are not considered close contacts.
Asymptomatic siblings/household members who previously tested positive for COVID-19 will not be excluded if it has been fewer than 90 days since their case.
Asymptomatic individuals who previously tested positive for COVID-19 will not be excluded if it has been fewer than 90 days since their case.