District 204 shifting COVID focus to infection control rather than contact tracing

While COVID-19 protocols in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 will remain similar to last school year, at least one major change is coming for returning students.

In an update to the school board, Deputy Superintendent Doug Eccarius said the district's focus will shift from contact tracing and quarantining in favor of infection control. The test-to-stay system, allowing students to remain with in-person learning as long as they test negative after being in close contact with someone testing positive, will be paused in 2022-23.

At Monday's board meeting, Eccarius said the district has more than 10,000 test kits available for students heading into the school year.

“This is almost identical to last year, except we're not doing the contact tracing and doing that whole quarantining process,” Eccarius said. “We're focused on if someone is positive or has symptoms. We want to try to minimize that spread as quickly as possible.”

Masking remains encouraged but not required in district schools. However, Superintendent Dr. Adrian Talley said a masking requirement remains an option if the number of positive cases spikes within a school or classroom.

“We hope and we are planning that we don't have to do that, but it is a possibility,” Talley said.

Eccarius said if a student tests positive or is probable positive — meaning the student hasn't been tested but is symptomatic and had close contact with someone who tested positive — the student will isolate for five days after first showing symptoms. Then the student will return to class while wearing a mask for the sixth through 10th days.

Students unable to mask will isolate for 10 days before returning to school. Symptomatic students who don't test will isolate for five days and wear a mask for the next five days when they return.

Students not in class will participate in remote learning until they return.

“Our main goal here is to have as many students in school as much as possible,” Eccarius said.

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