IDPH, CCDPH and CDC Guidelines for Schools
Revised Public Health Guidance for Schools: Part 4- Transition Joint Guidance (March 2021)
Among the highlights are language supporting social distancing of students between 3-6 feet in schools, the removal of room capacity limits tied to a specific number or even square footage (instead tied to the ability to socially distance), recommendations for travelers, and a strong push to try to return to in-person learning. Not surprisingly, this latest guidance has spurred many questions, See the FAQ below that serves as a sister document to this guidance
Frequently Asked Questions Revised Public Health Guidance Part IV – Transition Joint Guidance, March 11, 2021 (linked here)
This first FAQ reinforces the state's 5 mandates (1. universal face mask use in schools, 2. social distancing, as much as possible, 3. contact tracing, 4. increase in cleaning and disinfection, and 5. promotion of handwashing and respiratory etiquette) and addresses capacity limits, the change in social distancing, and modifications to the remote education option for students.
Interim Post-Vaccination Considerations for School Employees (updated 03/16/2021)
As educators and educational support staff start to get vaccinated, this document from IDPH will aid in determining the proper isolation and quarantine protocols for school employees with systemic signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and asymptomatic individuals who are named as close contacts. This updates close contact scenarios recommending partially vaccinated individuals basically be treated as unvaccinated people, and provides more flexibility for fully vaccinated persons.
IDPH’s COVID-19 Exclusion Guidance (Updated 03/15/2021)
This “decision-tree” guides schools in deciding how to respond to symptomatic Individuals in schools and day care programs. It offers “return to school” guidance as well as whether or not “close contacts” need to quarantine. Unfortunately, the 3/15/2021 updates are not highlighted, but this version updates COVID symptoms and includes the phrase "unless fully vaccinated" at the beginning of the "E" scenario's Return to School Guidance column.
IDPH's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Schools (Updated 03/16/2021)
Just a few additions to this iteration. Prompt 2 has added specificity for who can be considered for "option 2" as it relates to close contacts quarantining. Item 3 is brand new and addresses the response for vaccinated staff who have been exposed to a case. The last amendment is in item 10 and included something that was new to me. "Higher risk close contacts, including unmasked lunchroom companions, high and medium risk contact sports teammates and opponents, and music class participants may be assessed for contact less than 15 minutes, as determined by the LHD." [emphasis added]IDPH’s Adaptive Pause and Metrics: Interim School Guidance for Local Health Departments (Updated 03/16/2021)
This document lays out the metrics a school district could use and should consider when making the decision to choose or switch between all remote learning, hybrid/blended learning and in-person learning. A 6 paragraph section has been added after the list of potential school-based strategies on page 2, but otherwise it is much the same as the original from August. If you haven't looked at it lately, it may be worth a refresher.
CDC's Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation (2/12/2021)
This operational strategy presents recommendations based on the best-available evidence at the time of release. As science and data on COVID-19 continue to evolve, guidance and recommendations will be updated to reflect new evidence. This document is intended to complement CDC’s guidance, tools, and resources for K-12 schools, including guidance on operating schools during COVID-19 and overview of testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). This document is intended to complement the U.S. Department of Education’s Handbook on Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools. It reflects evidence on COVID-19 among children and adolescents and what is known about SARS-CoV-2 transmission in schools, summarized in CDC’s Science Brief on Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in K-12 Schools.IDPH has released a statement mostly agreeing with CDC's option of reducing quarantine for close contacts; however, they do not recommend that the quarantine end after day 7 with a negative RT-PCR test for children in daycares or K-12 schools. The fact that they specifically delineate children seems to imply that it is acceptable for adult staff.
CDC's Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing (12/2/2020)
The CDC announced options to reduce the length of quarantine for close contacts. The long and the short of it is 1) Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring, and 2) When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available, then quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen may be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation, but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.Cook County Dept. of Public Health's Clarification of Adaptive Pause Guidance for Schools, K12: (10/16/2020)This document from the Cook County Department of Public Health discusses how school districts should navigate the current COVID environment in relation to IDPH’s Adaptive Pause and Metrics: Interim School Guidance for Local Health Departments (08/17/20). CCDPH stresses the importance of considering "the specific local needs of each school district," and further states that, "A school with an outbreak can expect recommendations from CCDPH on opening and closing that will depend on the specific circumstances at a given school."This guidance addresses what schools should do when someone on site tests positive, becomes sick on site, or is waiting for the results of a test. It also offers guidance regarding the procedures for addressing close contacts. A link to IDPH's When to Quarantine webpage is included, as is a link to IDPH's Discontinuation of Isolation webpage. NOTE: At the bottom of pg 4 is a section titled Procedures for Temporary Closure and Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection when a Confirmed or Possible Case of COVID-19 is Identified in a School/Day Care. There is a reference to the local health department (LHD) determining a school or day care closure. It is well worth the read.
Ventilation System Guidance During COVID-19 (11/05/2020)
This guidance provides quick, easy, practical opportunities for improving air quality and air flow for the purpose of minimizing the threat of COVID-19.
Northern Illinois Return to School Metrics, drafted by the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium, which Cook County Department of Public Health is a partner. (08/14/2020)
This document is solely focused on return to school metrics as opposed to the one listed above, and the format that might be friendlier for the reader. The consortium consists of the health departments from the following cities, villages and counties: Chicago, Evanston, Skokie, Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Will and Winnebago.
IDPH's Criteria for Return to School for Non-COVID Diseases
This chart lists the following for many common, and some not-so-common, "non-COVID" diseases: Mode of Transmission, Symptoms, Incubation Period, Period of Communicability, Criteria for Exclusion from School, Reporting Requirement, and Prevention & Control Measures. This chart will help a school district to know when a child with a non-COVID disease is ready to return to school.
IDPH Interim COVID-19 Music Guidance for Schools (09/28/2020)
This guidance addresses school band, choir, orchestra and general music programs including strategies that apply from elementary through high school. These recommendations are based on the latest results and science around current aerosol studies and represent best practices for preventing COVID-19 transmission among faculty, students, and staff engaged in music.
IDPH’s Procedures for Students, Faculty and Support Staff who Test Positive (08/17/2020)
Technically the document is titled Public Health Interim Guidance for Pre-K-12 Schools and Day Care Programs for Addressing COVID-19 and subtitled as we have listed it above, but the focus is what to do when students or staff test positive. Among the most important things to do when someone tests positive is to notify your local health department immediately. For Cook County the number for schools to report a positive case is (708) 836-8699. This document lists the information that the person reporting will be asked to share.
Cook County Department of Public Health- School Health
The Cook County Department of Public Health has put together this web page specifically for school districts. Upon opening it shares the phone number to the Communicable Disease Hotline, (708) 836-8699, which is who you should contact if your school/district has a confirmed COVID case. General questions should go to the COVID-19 hotline at (708) 633-3319 or you can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) School Reopening FAQ (08/12/2020)
The CCDPH posted this FAQ based upon the questions that suburban Cook County Districts submitted to them. Many of CCDPH’s answers refer the reader back to the ISBE Part 3 Transition Guidance FAQ or ISBE's/IDPH's Part 3 Transition Joint Guidance. Good news if you are a fan of consistency, not so good if the reader was hoping for more detail or depth of information.
IDPH, CCDPH and CDC Helpful Websites: