Dear District 99 Parents and Guardians:
As you know, we will begin saliva screenings for all students starting Tuesday, February 16. If you wish for your student to continue with in-person learning or on-campus activities or athletics and you signed the consent form, you and your student will be receiving further instructions about how to participate in the screenings.
Our purpose for adding saliva testing is to further ensure a safe learning environment while also becoming less reliant on community metrics to determine when the spread of COVID is too great to allow for in-person learning. We hope the testing will enable us to develop district specific data that might allow us to stay in-person more often and keep everyone safer while doing so. Please see more information about the screenings here.
We understand--and we share--the desire to bring all students back to school full time. While the saliva screenings will offer an additional layer of assurance, we must still follow the health guidelines to ensure a safe learning environment. The guidance for schools remains that we must maintain six feet of physical distance and restrict the number of people that can be in any one space; currently this is 50 people. Until these restrictions are modified, we do not have an option to offer full-time attendance for all students.
We announced to our staff last week that we have arranged to host a vaccination clinic in two weeks. By partnering with a third party, we will administer vaccines to public servants in Group 1B, which includes our school personnel. The clinic is dependent on the provider receiving the vaccine as scheduled. The timeline or requirements for vaccines for students is unknown at this time, as pediatric trials are ongoing and these decisions are made at the state level.
We hope that screenings and vaccines are a pathway to changes in the health guidelines. Until then, we will continue to offer our hybrid schedule and encourage all students to participate in in-person learning.
Thank you for your understanding,
Dr. Hank Thiele
District 99 Superintendent