Back to School - Frequently Asked Questions
Click here to access District 300's Back to School FAQ document. (Originally created August 6, 2021)
Click here to access the Spanish language version of District 300's Back to School FAQ document.
The following FAQ provides responses to D300’s constituents’ questions regarding the district’s COVID-19 prevention strategies for the start of the school year.
Where does the district obtain its guidance to develop its Back to School Plan?
On August 4, 2021, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order No. 18 (COVID-19 Executive Order No. 85). The Order requires the indoor use of face coverings by students, staff, and visitors who are over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering, regardless of vaccination status, consistent with CDC guidance. This document can be found at Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order No. 18.
On August 2, 2021, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued their latest guidance: COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools. This document can be found at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools.
On July 29, 2021, the Kane County Health Department (KCHD) updated its prevention strategies for K-12 schools “to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.” This document can be found at KCHD Statement for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools as of July 29, 2021.
On July 9, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its prevention strategies for K-12 schools. This document can be found at Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools.
Through June 7, 2021, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has compiled a document of the most frequently asked questions related to COVID-19 in schools. This FAQ may answer many of your questions to help you to understand the guidance and procedures school districts follow and have in place. This document can be found at IDPH Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Schools – Guidance.
What is the district’s liability in relation to COVID?
The Tort Immunity Act provides liability protections for school districts when, acting in the normal course of business, harm befalls a person because of the school district’s actions, which can be both affirmative actions or failure to act. However, Tort Immunity does not apply when the school district acts in a manner that is considered willful and wanton. Willful and wanton conduct is generally defined as a course of action that shows an actual or deliberate intention to cause harm or, if not intentional, shows an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others.
Concerning COVID-19 mitigation and prevention, if the school district assumes, for the sake of argument, that ISBE and IDPH do not have the authority to issue mask mandates, their guidance creates a standard for school districts to follow that most, if not all, courts of law would find reasonable under the circumstances. However, there is an argument that the school district is acting willfully and wantonly, contrary to the public good, by not following that standard. The argument extends that the school district knew that a precaution or mitigation measure (wearing masks) could have prevented harm to someone who suffered harm and yet failed to require the precaution or mitigation measure knowing that harm would or was reasonably bound to result.
If the school district’s actions in failing to require masks allow a person to ‘pierce’ the protective veil or bubble of Tort Immunity, liability for illness, injury, or death from COVID-19 could cost the school district — and its taxpayers in particular — millions of dollars. The situation would almost certainly result in complex litigation. These are risks that are not advisable.
Because of these risks, insurance companies have advised school districts to continue implementing all mitigations recommended and required by the State to ensure that school districts do not lose insurance coverage. More specifically, District 300’s insurance cooperative has advised that requiring masks for all is not only the ideal risk management strategy due to complications of identifying those vaccinated and those not vaccinated but, based on the latest CDC guidance, the only advisable strategy. In providing this advice, the insurance cooperative’s legal counsel stated that failure to adhere to this latest CDC guidance could jeopardize the District’s Tort Immunities related to communicable diseases like COVID-19.
What is the medical research on wearing masks?
The district follows CDC guidance for COVID-19. The CDC’s medical research on masks can be found at CDC Mask Research.
What does the district define as an acceptable mask/face covering?
Listed below are the guidelines for masks/face coverings:
- Cloth masks should:
- Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
- Completely cover nose and mouth
- Fit snugly against sides of the face without gaps
- Have a nose wire as this is the best option
- Disposable masks should not be reused.
- Masks should not:
- Have exhalation valves or vents that allow particles to escape
- Be single layer or masks made of thin fabric that doesn’t block light
- If using a gaiter, it should have two layers or be able to fold to make two layers and completely cover the nose and mouth.
Will students be required to wear masks 100% of the time?
Students will not be required to wear masks 100% of the time. At the beginning of the school year, students will be allowed to take off their masks when eating snacks, lunch, and outside. Where possible, staff will be taking students outdoors for mask breaks and teaching outside. As the school year progresses, we will continue to evaluate our universal masking decision based upon school-by-school and community COVID-19 metrics.
Does wearing masks violate the district dress code policy?
No. The face mask requirement does not violate the district’s dress code policy.
Can students be exempted from masking?
Under certain circumstances, students can be exempt from wearing a mask. In general, students that meet the following criteria will not be required to wear a mask:
- The student has an approved medical contraindication documented by a physician’s note.
- The student is developmentally, physically, or intellectually disabled, such that they are unable to remove a mask if needed.
- The student is hearing impaired or communicates with a hearing-impaired person and needs to see the person's mouth essential for communication.
- The parent can request a mask exemption form and provide a completed copy of the form to their building-level nurse.
- Students who receive the mask exemption will be required to wear a face shield and utilize a tri-fold plexiglass desk shield when in the classroom.
If a student has a 504 or IEP, the team will review the documentation aligned with the ISBE of medical contraindication and review appropriate accommodations. Please refer to the Education Service Manual under “COVID Reopening” for more information.
If you believe your child meets any of the criteria listed above, please fill out and submit a Mask Exemption Application by the end of the day on August 11. The form must be dropped off at the District 300 Central Office (2550 Harnish Drive, Algonquin) and delivered to the front desk in the main lobby or the after-hours box outside the building.
Who determines the quarantine restrictions for our staff and students?
IDPH and the local health departments determine the quarantine periods for students and staff. D300 has no control over the quarantine restrictions if a student or staff member is COVID-19 positive or in close contact with a person that is COVID-19 positive.
Can a close contact be tested and return to school right away?
Yes, students who have been identified as close contacts may participate in the IDPH’s Test-to-Stay Program to reduce their quarantine period and stay in school. For more information on the Test-to-Stay Program, please see the “Testing” section of this FAQ document.
Can schools quarantine by teams?
The local health department is responsible for instructing who should be quarantined and is dependent on physical distancing, masking, and vaccination status.
What is the IDPH Test-to-Stay program?
Participation in the Test-to-Stay program would allow students who have been identified as a close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual to remain in the classroom, pending they test negative over a series of days and remain asymptomatic.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, “as an alternative to quarantine, students, and teachers who have been identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case now have the option of a Test-to-Stay Protocol. Close contacts must be tested on days 1, 3, 5, and 7 after exposure. As long as the close contacts remain negative, they are not required to quarantine.”
We are still waiting for the final guidance on the Test-to-Stay Program. We will share that guidance as soon as it becomes available.
What is the benefit of participating in the IDPH Test-to-Stay program?
Students can remain in school and would not need to quarantine unless symptoms develop or they test positive on days one, three, five, or seven following exposure.
Instructional / Building Level
How will my student receive instruction if quarantined?
Remote instruction learning opportunities will be offered to all students under quarantine for their District 300 provided courses. Instruction may be delivered in various ways depending on the level and student instructional needs, beginning with posting asynchronous work for each course on our new learning management platform, Schoology (formerly Powerschool Learning). Teachers may also provide synchronous instruction (have students remote into the classroom) in specific situations when the teacher determines it best meets the instructional outcomes of the lesson.
Preschool level students will be provided with a hard copy packet of materials to complete during their quarantine period. These materials will be universal to any unit of study.
Elementary, middle, and high school level students will receive asynchronous learning activities via Schoology from their assigned teachers (classroom, specials, etc.). In addition, students may access a Remote Learning Resource Teacher on an as-needed basis. Remote Learning Resource Teachers will be available to provide synchronous instructional support as they complete their asynchronous instruction. Quarantined students will access the Remote Learning Resource Teacher(s) to support their daily assigned instructional activities within 48 hours of being identified for quarantine. All quarantined students will be required to check in with the Remote Learning Resource Teacher(s) minimally once per week during their quarantine period. In summary:
- At the elementary level: Remote Learning Resource Teachers will be available by grade level
- At the middle school and high school levels: Remote Learning Resource Teachers will be available in Math, Science, English Language Arts, and Social Studies
- Students receiving special education services: will continue to receive services in compliance with their individual remote learning plan and supported by a Special Education Remote Learning Resource Teacher.
Directions to access Remote Learning Resource Teacher(s) will be shared with students and families if their student needs to quarantine.
Can middle school and high school students use their lockers?
Middle and high school students will begin the school year without hallway lockers and will carry their backpacks to classes. District 300 will review and consider using hallway lockers starting the second quarter (October 11).
Much like other mitigation strategies, we preserve this strategy so that students are less likely to congregate in hallways, reduce interactions to less than three feet apart, and keep the flow of passing periods moving smoothly.
As was the case last school year, middle schools will use a staggered passing period approach (by grade level or team) where feasible, and high schools will extend passing periods from five to seven minutes. Both levels will also utilize one-way hallways and staircases where feasible.
As the school year continues, we will reevaluate the need for these mitigation strategies and reduce them as the data allows.
Middle and high school students will use PE lockers and will change for PE classes under the following conditions:
- PE locker usage should be socially distant to the greatest extent possible.
- HEPA Filters have been installed and will be used.
- Students should immediately leave the locker room and enter the gym upon dressing.
Do students have to use the plexiglass shields for lunch and at their desks all day?
Students will not need to use the tri-fold plexiglass shields when wearing a mask and sitting at their desks. However, students will use the tri-fold plexiglass shields when eating lunch.
Will students eat in the lunchroom again, or will they have to spread out in the gym and lunchroom?
Where possible, students will be eating in their lunchrooms as follows:
- At the elementary level, to the greatest extent possible, students will eat in the cafeteria/gym/multi-purpose room spaces with tri-fold plexiglass shields. Schools will space students 3 feet apart in addition to utilizing the tri-fold plexiglass shields.
- At the middle school and high school levels, students will eat in the cafeteria/commons/multi-purpose room spaces with tri-fold plexiglass shields. In addition, schools will space students at 3 feet apart to the extent feasible and utilize the tri-fold plexiglass shields.
How will physical education be impacted by the new guidance?
Students will still change for physical education class and need a uniform and lock from their school.
- 6th and 7th grade students have already been charged the fees through registration, and locks and uniforms will be distributed to students during the first week of school.
- 8th-12th grade students who need new or replacement PE uniforms and/or locks can be purchased via the webstore or at the school to be picked up at the school.
Does music class require any additional PPE, and does the parent need to provide it?
Band students will need bell covers and special masks if they play a wind instrument indoors. The district will have wind instrument PPE available. However, parents may choose to purchase band-specific PPE from a local vendor. Families will receive more information from their band teacher at the start of the school year.
The district will also have a mask option that is conducive to singing for choral students. Families will get more information from their choir teacher at the start of the school year. All students will need to have a mask indoors, including while singing.
When should I drop off my child’s medication or health documents?
Parents are strongly encouraged to drop off any medication or paperwork at your school’s main office before the first day of school.
- All elementary school main offices are open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- All middle school main offices are open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- All high school main offices are open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.