Dear Elgin Academy Community,
We have had students on campus for several weeks now, and we want to thank everyone for your patience and cooperation. The start of school has truly been an example of what makes this a tight-knit community; we have worked together to create the best environment possible in this unprecedented time. We knew there would be bumps in the road, but we are proud of the agility with which we have traversed them. We will continue to make that effort every day, guided by our desire to create the best environment in every way we can.
Thank you for the roles you have all played, individually and collectively, and always with patience, in making this situation work.
Now is not the time to bask in our success, however; our educational ambitions and community safety are too important. Let's remember that a big part of our school's mission is to use the education we all receive here, adults and students alike, for the betterment of those around us. This has never been more true than it is today. We need to remain vigilant both when we are here and when we are in other places because it is our responsibility to do so. It is exactly that community-minded attitude that has carried us this far, and now is the time to double-down on exactly what makes us all Hilltoppers. It is working!
As we have said consistently, our protocols have been shaped by guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). They, in turn, constantly update their guidance to reflect the fact that we, as a world, are learning new things everyday about this virus and its mitigation.
As a result of this new guidance, we have adjusted our protocols concerning when we may need to close a cohort and move to remote learning. In addition, we have received some updates from the IDPH regarding COVID-19 symptoms.
Our current policy indicates that if a member of a cohort is exhibiting one or more symptoms of COVID-19 that the entire cohort must move to remote learning while the individual seeks medical advice. Per updated guidance from IDPH, we will no longer need to close the cohort in this case.
The individual that reports or exhibits symptoms will be asked either not to come to campus or to leave campus within an hour. Any household member of the symptomatic individual will also need to remain home or leave campus. The new guidance says that cohort members would not need to be at home while we are awaiting a diagnosis. Due to that change, we will not require that the cohort be closed and we will not require that the cohort members move to online learning. Cohort members may choose to leave campus or stay home until there is more information regarding the symptomatic individual, but it will not be mandated.
If the individual is ultimately diagnosed with COVID-19, we would then close the cohort and all members would need to remain off campus for at least 14 days after their last exposure.
We will follow the same communications systems as we have been when an individual exhibits symptoms. Families in the cohort will be notified via our Blackboard emergency system first, and the remainder of the community will be notified via email blast. We will continue to email follow-up information when we have it.
It is important to note that we are able to follow this updated guidance because we have maintained good adherence to social distancing and the use of face coverings. The Kane County Health Department has provided positive feedback on our systems and we thank our faculty, staff, students, and families for your continued adherence to our procedures.
Our symptom questions are based on requirements from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). IDPH updates these requirements as new information comes to light and shares it with schools when they determine that it can have an impact on our processes. When IDPH updated its guidance, it provided this most recent clarification regarding the screening and exclusion from campus process. We will be updating the Magnus app with new screening questions that reflect this new guidance. The new questions are listed below with changes in bold:
- Is anyone in the student’s household currently known or suspected to be positive for COVID-19?
- Is the student currently under direction to quarantine due to a known exposure to COVID-19?
- Does the student have a fever of 100.4F or greater?
- Does the student have a new cough or shortness of breath?
- Does the student have a new runny nose or congestion?
- Does the student have a new onset of a moderate or severe headache?
- Does the student have a sore throat, muscle or body aches?
- Does the student have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea?
- Does the student have abdominal pain from an unknown cause?
- Does the student have fatigue from an unknown cause?
- Does the student have a new loss of sense of taste or smell?
In the case of “new cough” or “new runny nose”, “new” means something that is new to the individual and not typically experienced by them in this way. For example, if an individual has chronic allergies and gets a runny nose every time the ragweed count is high, then their runny nose is not new and does not require exclusion from school. However, if an individual has never had that symptom for this reason in the past, then this symptom would count as new for them and requires further evaluation before they return to campus.
Similarly, an individual who has a documented diagnosis of asthma which is triggered seasonally and begins to experience those symptoms as they typically do each year does not have a new cough. However, if they begin having asthma symptoms in a way that is atypical for them, they require further evaluation.
In regards to “new onset of moderate to severe headache”, a headache that responds easily to over-the-counter medication, rest, and/or hydration would be considered mild and does not require exclusion from school. Individuals with a documented diagnosis of migraines and other chronic types of headaches, which are typically moderate to severe, do not require further evaluation if they experience these symptoms as they typically have in the past.
If at any time the IDPH provides additional guidance to change the screening and/or exclusion process, we will do so. We will always inform the community about any pertinent changes to the screening and exclusion process.