Masks Strongly Recommended
At last night’s meeting, Naperville School District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges provided a COVID-19 mitigation update to the board. He said the current plan for the district is to continue to strongly recommend masks.
This decision is based on a number of factors including the uncertainty with the Sangamon County case, District 203 COVID metrics on a downward trend, the continuation of the district’s layered mitigation strategies, and high vaccination rates in the community.
According to Bridges, around 77% of people in the district zip codes are fully vaccinated. Over 90% of District 203 staff are also fully vaccinated. DuPage County reports 73.5% of those 12 to 17 years old fully vaccinated in the county.
If students and staff test positive for the virus, they will be excluded for five to 10 days. They can return to school on day six after symptoms have subsided, and wear a mask on days six to 10 while at school. Face coverings on buses will continue per a federal CDC mandate, according to Bridges.
Monitoring Indicators vs Trigger Points
Moving forward, the district will be monitoring indicators rather than individual trigger points to decide whether to adjust their mitigation plans. Primary indicators they’ll be looking at are active case counts in each school building, as well as the community transmission rate. Other indicators taken into account are vaccine availability and local hospitalization rates.
“One thing we do know is that everything about this virus is constantly changing,” said Bridges. “The changing dominant variant strand, the ever evolving recommendations from public health officials, and the emerging research on mitigation effectiveness all point to the need for a more fluid, flexible, and responsive strategy for responding to indicators that may suggest the need for additional targeted layered mitigations.”
The plan is to address spikes and trends by each school, rather than just district-wide changes. “What we need to do is step away from a one-size fits all at every school across the district,” said Bridges. “We need a more focused look with indicators within our community to mitigate the risk.”
Beginning next week, the COVID-19 dashboard found on the district website will reflect these indicators so families can monitor how each school is doing on a weekly basis.
Per a board policy, the superintendent is authorized to implement temporary rules and procedures related to policy of face covering requirements. At the meeting, Bridges said he recommends the suspension of the policy.
Another update will be presented to the board on March 7.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.