Dr. Theresa Chapple-McGruder, Oak Park’s Public Health Director, published a COVID-19 Guidance for Schools on May 10. This appears to be groundwork for robbing the District 97 students of the first normal conclusion of the school year in three years. We strongly oppose this.
We are Mann parents and we support the current, reduced mitigations in effect at D97 schools. The schools are safe.
We strongly oppose any effort to increase mitigations for the balance of the school year. If that happens, it will only be the product of unfounded fear, and a lack of reason.
Most importantly, we insist that the Public Health director’s guidance not be allowed to serve as a pretext for eliminating the normal conclusion to the school year that our kids deserve. They should not be forced to wear masks, and they should be allowed to have the field trips and end-of-year celebrations that are already planned without interruption or change. Our kids should not be excluded from the classroom for a minute longer than absolutely necessary, and discussion in the guidance of remote learning is provocative and inflammatory. How much longer are we supposed to put our kids’ lives on hold?
The Public Health director’s guidance focuses on contact tracing and case counts. Both are misguided. Contact tracing should not be the job of our dedicated and already over-burdened school nurses. Case counts are no longer relevant at this waning stage of the pandemic. They are hardly more relevant than case counts of the common cold. Serious illness and hospitalizations do matter, but are not addressed in the guidance.
In the early days of this pandemic, the board, along with D97 teachers, staff, and administrators, operated with little information and did an excellent job of dealing with an unprecedented emergency in our community. Now, however, the emergency is over, and we know a lot more than we did back then. We urge the board to reject reflexive, thoughtless fear-mongering and allow our kids to finish the year with smiles on their faces that we can see.
Peter & Jennifer Preston