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 RPS 205: COVID-19 Update

9/25/2020 12:00 AM

RPS 205 staff,   

Each of you is critical to keeping our schools open and providing essential services and support to our students. Schools in Winnebago County – including RPS 205 – have a low positivity rate of COVID-19, or the Coronavirus. The Winnebago County Health Department has shared praise for school nurses and staff for sending symptomatic students and staff home and working swiftly to notify any close contacts of staff or students potentially exposed to COVID-19. But we must do better.   

While we're not seeing transmission of COVID-19 in our schools, cases are increasing. About half of our schools have experienced at least one positive case of COVID-19 so far, and that number will likely grow. That means people – both students and staff – are contracting COVID-19 outside of school and bringing it into our schools.  

Please consider these reminders from our nursing team, school administrators and the Winnebago County Health Department:  

-Host virtual meetings: If you're hosting an in-person meeting, all attendees must stay six feet apart from each other. Host meetings in the cafeteria, auditorium or gymnasium where staff can spread out. If that's not possible, host the meeting virtually. This includes staff and PLC meetings. If you are closer than six feet for 15 minutes or longer, you're considered a close contact to a colleague. If someone on your staff tests positive for COVID-19, every close contact is required to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of a negative COVID-19 test. 

-Discourage food at meetings. That means no celebrations with treats – like birthdays or retirements – or meetings over lunch.   

-Stay home if you're not feeling well. Monitor your health and watch for symptoms. All RPS 205 staff agree each day that by coming to school or work, they are free from any COVID-19 symptoms and have not been in close contact with anyone who has COVID-19. Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. 

-What to do if you have symptoms: If you experience any COVID-19 related symptoms, please send an email to the designated COVID-19 email address that will be shared with Health Services and Human Resources: [email protected]. Staff will assist you with contact tracing and quarantine guidance. HR staff may be able to assist you: 815-490-4134. 

-Symptomatic students and staff: We've heard positive feedback that our families are understanding and cooperative when students are sent home because of potential COVID-19 symptoms. We need our staff to take this seriously, too, and stay home if you're not feeling well.  

-Masks are mandatory. Thank you for wearing your masks and encouraging your students to do the same. We've had very few issues with students or staff refusing to wear masks or improperly wearing them. As a reminder, masks must always cover both the mouth and the nose. Thank you for setting a great example and for following mask guidelines.

-Testing is recommended or required in limited situations. Staff should only be tested for COVID-19 if they are symptomatic or identified as a close contact to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. When a school has a confirmed case, the Health Department has reiterated that only school staff who have been identified as being in close contact and/or who have exhibited symptoms should be tested. Contact tracers from RPS 205 and the Winnebago County Health Department will notify staff directly if they need to quarantine. Also: check with your primary care provider about testing.  

As a community, we are still following Phase 4 reopening guidelines under the governor's Restore Illinois plan. As a district, we are still following guidelines from the Illinois State Board of Education. Thank you for your continued cooperation and support in putting students first.   

Sincerely,   

Ehren Jarrett
Superintendent
Rockford Public Schools  

Joyce Turnipseed
Program Administrator for Health Services
Rockford Public Schools  

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