During the Sept. 9 Zoom call, parents also asked whether the district would consider shortening the quarantine period, so their children could return to school earlier. Some cited that Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 offered a test-back option for staff and students for the last four days of their quarantine. At D200, staff and students can take a rapid COVID-19 test on Day 11 and each day after, and if they test negative, they can return to school in-person.
Chapple-McGruder said she and district officials are talking about that option and trying to figure out how to roll out that plan.
Amanda Siegfried, D97 senior director of communications, said it’s tough to compare the elementary school district, which is made up of 10 school buildings, to D200, which only operates one building and is a “little more contained.” What it comes down to is a lack of resources, said Siegfried in a separate interview with Wednesday Journal.
“We have our nurses. That’s it,” said Siegfried, and their nurses are already stretched thin by the amount of day-to-day tasks and COVID-19 responsibilities.
She explained further that the school nurses have to deal with contact tracing, notifying parents about their children who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are potentially exposed to the virus, keeping track of positive and negative cases — and possibly administering a rapid COVID-19 test.
“They’re doing a lot right now, and in order to implement the 10-day [quarantine], we have to make sure that we have a sustainable structure and system for all of our schools,” she said, noting the district is currently looking for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to support the school nurses.
Parents at the Sept. 9 meeting wondered whether the district would allow them to purchase the COVID-19 rapid tests or use funding from the Mann PTO to supply the rapid tests.
In a separate interview with Wednesday Journal, co-interim Superintendent Griff Powell said the nurses do not support that course of action but maintained the district is looking at the logistics of making rapid testing a possibility.
The district also recently expanded its remote learning, which aims to offer a “window into the classroom.” Quarantined students now have the chance to watch or listen in on their classes instead of working with a substitute teacher for a few hours a day. Students, however, cannot participate in discussions, raise their hands or use the chat feature.
“There are no great solutions,” Powell admitted. “You have a child out of school and at home for 14 days, potentially 10 to 14 [days]. You want to support them as much as possible. You want to provide them access, but you also have the challenge of teachers that are now in their classes with the majority of students. You have two different learning spaces. So how do we manage that?” “… Hopefully, this will give students a little bit more access to their classroom and to their teacher.”