At least 24 current Oak Park and River Forest High School students have tested positive for COVID-19 from Aug. 15 through Sept. 9, District 200 officials said in an email D200 Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams sent to families on Sept. 10. The cases were confirmed by the Oak Park Department of Public Health.

Pruitt-Adams indicated that the spike in positive cases could be connected to a large gathering at an area home that took place within that time period.

“We have received information from both parents and students that a large indoor gathering of students recently was held at a local home, where mask-wearing and social-distancing were not observed,” she said. “A significant number of positive cases are believed to have resulted from that event.”

The superintendent urged students to “please stop engaging in risky behaviors,” adding that by doing so they “put not just you and your families but our entire community at risk.”

Pruitt-Adams also asked students and families to cooperate with the health department’s contact-tracing effort.

 Mike Charley, head of Oak Park’s public health department, wrote in an email to Wednesday Journal, “Due to privacy laws, we are unable to provide specifics regarding our case investigations, however it would be helpful for the Wednesday Journal to communicate that since the state has opened back up, the village has observed a significant increase in the percentage of younger persons testing positive (<40) vs. persons over 40 years old, with the largest increase in the 14-19 year old age range.”

In her letter to families Pruitt-Adams wrote, “I understand that sharing information about unsafe behavior may be uncomfortable and embarrassing,” she said. “But providing details about whom an exposed person has been with, for how long, where they were, etc., is essential to stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

Local, state and federal health authorities have advised anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or is suspected to have the virus to self-quarantine for 14 days. Their family members should do so, as well.

Public health authorities recommend that people wear face coverings while in public, abstain from attending large social gatherings, maintain at least six feet distance and stay home if they’re sick.  

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