11.20.2020 Letter to Families and Staff

11.20.2020 Letter to Families and Staff

November 20, 2020

Dear Butler D53 Families and Staff,

We continue to listen to feedback, take all considerations into account, and focus on the physical and mental health and safety of our students and staff. Our school buildings remain safe physical spaces by following the guidance from IDPH, DCHD, and CDC. These policies and guidance have brought us this far into the school year and we continue to ask you to partner with us to respect our guidelines and verify your compliance. Our teachers and staff continue to work tirelessly to support our students who are learning in-person as well as parallel remotely.

The Pandemic Awareness Committee (PAC) met again this week. I thank the members of this committee for their service, insight, and recommendations. The PAC discussed our self-certification process, steps for improving that process, communication, and holiday safety recommendations. As an outcome of this meeting, you will be receiving text message alerts on Sunday evenings reminding you of the need for self-certification, daily symptom checks, and remaining home when within close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual.

Additionally, I'm attaching information about a free mobile application, COVID Coach, to support self-care and overall mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID Coach was created by the VA's National Center for PTSD and one of our PAC members shared information about this extremely comprehensive and easy to use application.

I'm pleased to announce that after months of research and planning, Butler D53 has the ability to offer antibody and antigen testing on-site administered by our registered nurses. We began offering these tests to faculty and staff this week. It is our hope and intention to begin offering these tests to our students and community. More information can be found on our website under COVID-19 Updates. We will further communicate with you on testing availability, dates, and times in the coming weeks.

In an effort to keep our school community safe, we encourage you to follow recommendations from DCHD, IDPH, and CDC related to gatherings. Gatherings should be limited and extreme caution should be followed. We understand that the holidays present themselves with changes to our typical daily routines - you might be considering traveling out of state, you might have out of state family members in your home, you might be welcoming back college age family members. We need your cooperation in keeping our school buildings safe. If your routines change, holiday travel happens, or indoor gatherings with those outside of your immediate family occur, we encourage you to take advantage of the remote learning option for your child(ren). We want our families to feel comfortable and safe in keeping their student(s) home to learn remotely for one to two weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday break. Please communicate directly with your building principal on these temporary changes.

I'm grateful for our compassionate faculty and staff, supportive parents and guardians, fantastic students, and our dedicated Board of Education. I wish you and your family a very happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.

Stay safe, be well,

Dr. Paul O’Malley
Superintendent of Schools