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School of St. Mary COVID Information

On Aug. 2, 2021, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) updated their COVID-19 School Guidance and FAQs to reflect the recently updated recommendations for schools from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Lake County Health Department (LCHD) also announced on July 31, 2021, that Lake County is experiencing ”substantial” community transmission per the CDC data tracker. And, at the Aug. 4 media conference, Governor Pritzker announced that all Illinois pre-k - 12 schools must follow indoor masking regardless of vaccination status. The Office of Catholic Schools sent the following letter to school families around 2 p.m. on Friday, August 6, about the updated Back to School 2021/22 Framework posted on its website on Thursday, August 5. 

Given these updates, the School of St. Mary will have the following mitigation measures in place:

Masking

According to the State of Illinois mandate, masks will be required for students, teachers, and staff, regardless of vaccination status, in all schools and other archdiocese facilities to start the school year. No mask usage outside except for busing.
  • Mesh masks and masks with holes are not permissible.
  • Well-fitting masks featuring two or more layers of fabric and an adjustable nose wire are required.
  • Reusable cloth masks, disposable masks, and Kn95s (for children) all fit this description. Experience has shown that for most, reusable masks typically fit better than disposable child-size masks.

 

Wellness Checks

No wellness checks, staggered drop-off/pick-up schedules, or dedicated entrance/exit doors.

Upon arrival, children sanitize their hands. Sanitize hands upon arrival in the classroom and throughout the day as good hygiene practice.

Note: instead of sending students to the office, the staff member will contact the office, and the nurse or office staff will go to the student.

Visitor Information

The School of St. Mary is looking forward to welcoming visitors back to our campus this school year. To enter the campus, you will need to follow all current school COVID guidelines: 
  • Visitors must wear masks in the building, regardless of their vaccination status. 
  • Do not come to the School of St. Mary if you feel ill, have a fever, or are experiencing any COVID symptoms. 
  • Complete an online health screening before arrival at the School of St. Mary

 

Health Procedures & Vaccines

Students/teachers/staff who experience illness or symptoms MUST stay home.

COVID-19 cases are to be reported via the Infection School Protocol Form.

We will follow prevailing local health department guidelines concerning quarantines.

Vaccines are optional for all. We do not require that anyone gets vaccinated (but it is encouraged). However, vaccines do exempt someone from having to quarantine if the individual is a close contact. But, we must have proof that the person is vaccinated not to have to quarantine. Submit your students’ vaccine information at this link.
 
What if someone in my house has COVID?
If a household member tests positive for COVID, all family members must quarantine for ten days from the date of the positive test.

Do we need to quarantine before school starts?
The Office of Catholic Schools follows the City of Chicago Travel Advisory for all schools, located in Chicago, Lake County, of Cook County.
Domestic Travel 
  • Fully vaccinated students/teachers/staff do not need post-travel COVID-19 testing or self-quarantines as long as they are not symptomatic and provide proof of vaccination.
  • Unvaccinated students/teachers/staff must follow the prevailing post-travel quarantine recommendations when traveling to Orange States. This currently means a 10-day quarantine OR proof of a negative test no earlier than 72 hours prior to returning to Chicago (or anytime post-return, though an individual must quarantine until a negative test result is received). A negative test = no quarantine required.
International Travel
  • The CDC currently requires a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery to board a plane to the United States. Because of this negative test, there is no required quarantine upon arrival, regardless of vaccination status.
 

E-Learning

There is no expectation for virtual programming. All instruction will be except for extraordinary exceptions, which will be handled on a case by case basis. The AOC has determined that simultaneous instruction (both in-person and full remote) will not occur during the 2021-2022 school year.
 

SOSM Reopening Information Night

Reopening Information Session

The School of St. Mary held a virtual parent information session on Tuesday, Aug 10, 2021. You can find the information from that session below: 

 

Additional Resources:

Prevention Tips

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Wipe down surfaces regularly with disinfectant wipes.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Elbow bump instead of shaking hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw it away immediately.
  • Do not send your student to school if they are sick.
    • Absences due to illness, including fever-related absences, will be recorded as an Excused Absence without a doctor's note. Teachers will work with students to create a plan to make up missed work.
  • Per our local authorities, students have been recommended to stay home until they are fever-free for 48 hours.
  • If your student has a combination of fever, cough, and shortness of breath, contact your doctor.

 

Wearing a Mask

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth 
  • Wear a mask correctly for maximum protection
  • Don’t put the mask around your neck or on your forehead
  • Don’t touch the mask, and, if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect​ 
Videos on Mask Wearing for Kids:
The safety and well-being of all students and school employees remain the top priority of the School of St. Mary and the Archdiocese of Chicago. The COVID-19 pandemic remains unpredictable and fluid. In addition to public health agencies, the Archdiocese of Chicago has a team of medical professionals advising them on all their guidance. They are monitoring the situation and will modify requirements during the school year as conditions, mandates, and guidance change. 

 

Archdiocese of Chicago operating Framework for the 2021/2022 School Year

This is the operating framework at this time.

 
Questions? 
If you have any questions about this information, don't hesitate to contact Mrs. Cindy Pacewicz, School Nurse, when school is in session at (847) 295-4856.
 
You may also contact Principal Dr. Julie Brua at (847) 582-2526 or Assistant Principal Mrs. Kathy Thompson at (847) 295-4833.

Reopening Session FAQ

Yes, you may if your little one is comfortable making the walk. There will be teachers outside to supervise and direct students to the correct entrances. 

Mesh masks and masks with holes are not permissible.
Well-fitting masks featuring two or more layers of fabric and an adjustable nose wire are required.
Reusable cloth masks, disposable masks, and Kn95s (for children) all fit this description. Experience has shown that for most, reusable masks typically fit better than disposable child-size masks.
There are two new PGC teachers and more assistants in pre-kindergarten.  First grade shares a full-time assistant, which we did not have last year.  Also, our two kindergarten assistants have returned to help all the classes.
There will be a tent available for use at the PGC. Due to the use of the devices and the need for the Internet, the UGC students were unable to use the tent very often during the 2020-2021 school year.
Once a student is outside, they can remove their masks.
We will create a schedule for the PGC tent when the teachers formally return this week.  I also expect teachers will offer instruction out of doors in the early fall as the weather permits.  
Since children are no longer eating in their classrooms, nuts will again be allowed. However, in order to keep children with allergies safe, there will be a peanut table that children who have nuts in their lunches will be asked to sit at. They will be allowed to bring one friend with them, so they will not be eating alone.
Yes, we will be allowed to resume extracurricular activities this school year. We are in the process of getting all those agreements and registrations put together and more information will be available soon. 
Yes, our Athletic Director, Dr. Carlini is building the schedules. You can find the schedules and sports under  Athletics on the menu bar above. 

Yes, we are looking forward to having parents join us for mass. Guests should follow current guidelines for worship. 

The Archdiocese of Chicago (AOC) has approved the sharing of materials.  Primary Grade Center students in first through third grade each have a personal supply box in their desks.  They will need to swap their dull pencils for sharpened ones in the early grades.   
Mr. Knotek provided 90% of his physical education instruction outdoors last year.  I expect he will do the same this year.  We will provide personalized paper bags for each student to deposit their masks at the PGC.

Yes, we will have community events returning to SOSM, and we are excited to gather together.  The ice cream social on August 19th is the first of these community events,  There will probably be holiday celebrations as well.

We are eligible for COVID testing on campus for free. Dr. Drua is working on details with our nurse Mrs. Pacewicz.

SOSM strives to provide high-quality education to all our students. SOSM students have 1 to 1 technology, use Google Classroom, and have access to all the course materials and work while in quarantine. Teachers will work with families and students to ensure that a quarantined student receives the same quality education. 

SOSM is an Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic School. We follow the policy set forth by the Office of Catholic Schools, not CPS

No, school volunteers are permitted, regardless of their vaccination status. If a volunteer is a regular (i.e. once a week), they will need to either be vaccinated or have a weekly COVID test. All visitors to SOSM must complete an online health screening before entering the building. 
AOC policy states: Fully vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic are not required to quarantine. Proof of vaccinations will be needed to avoid quarantines. When we shift to a mask optional policy for vaccinated individuals, proof of immunization will be required to allow individuals to remove masks and prevent an unmasked individual from being quarantined. 
The school survey results were an even 50/50 on the mask issue. While a mandate is not a law, there are repercussions to schools that do not comply, including losing certification and funding. In addition, the SOSM is part of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and their framework for reopening states:
 
In keeping with State of Illinois mandates and with the recommendations of public health authorities, we will start the school year requiring masks for all individuals while inside school buildings, regardless of vaccination status. 
 
When conditions allow, our preference is to transition to a policy under which vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear a mask indoors. This strategy will help us monitor whether our return to near pre-pandemic operations is working. It is also important to note that masking at the start of the school year while removing other mitigations is an important safeguard for high-risk faculty and staff – further protecting those who performed so heroically this past school year.

Yes, the staff of SOSM will support all our students. 

The AOC closely monitors the situation and regularly evaluates the conditions and guidance of civil authorities and public health agencies. When conditions allow, the AOC preference is to transition to a policy under which vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear a mask indoors.

That would be something we would take into consideration if the AOC provides such an option.

Students will have a break from the masks whenever they are outside for recess and while eating. Teachers will evaluate their classroom needs on a daily basis, and weather permitting, they will use outdoor spaces.
 SOSM is blessed to have a social worker on the staff. During the first week of school, she will be visiting all the classrooms at our schools and discussing masking and why we have to wear them.

Yes, as an Archdiocese of Chicago School, we must follow the framework and guidelines put out by the Office of Catholic Schools. 

 At this time, SOSM is following the framework put out by the Office of Catholic Schools. The AOC is monitoring the situation and will update its guidelines as the situation changes. 
SOSM is blessed to have a social worker on the staff. During the first week of school, she will be visiting all the classrooms at both schools as well as discussing masking and why we have to wear them.
We will continue to follow the framework and guidelines put out by the AOC and the OCS. SOSM will work closely with the staff to ensure we are providing social-emotional support for all students.
We understand that there are lots of emotions and opinions on this subject. At this time, we are following the guidelines put forth by the Archdiocese. We are monitoring the situation and taking into account the health and safety of all individuals on our campus and will adjust accordingly.
Our teachers and staff will work with our children on the proper placement of masks with gentle reminders and loving concern. If a mask needs to be removed for proper communication, spacing 3 feet from all individuals will be required.

Yes, SOSM receives proportionate share dollars from local schools and EANS funding from federal and state grants.