A Message from Superintendent Mike Riordan

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Summer greetings from Oak Lawn Community High School!  We are less than a month away from  Opening Day of the 2021-2022 school year.  I am writing today to address three important issues related to the full reopening of our school on Wednesday, August 18, 2021:
 
  1. Fall 2021 safety mitigation strategies, as per the recently released guidance from the CDC and IDPH. 
  2. Availability of free daily breakfast and lunch for all students.
  3. Waiver of school registration fees for all students.

Fall 2021 Safety Mitigation Planning
 
We are very pleased that the recent CDC and IDPH guidance prioritizes the need for a full in-school experience for all of our students this fall.  We will continue to update you when new information is available. For now, please note the following information.
 
The CDC’s updated COVID-19 guidance for schools explicitly allows schools to lift mask requirements indoors for individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and generally allows schools to decide where and how masking fits with their mitigation strategies. Individuals become “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 two weeks after their final dose of the vaccine. The CDC says individuals who are not vaccinated should wear a mask while indoors at school. 
 
At this time, we are very fortunate that the spread of the virus in our community is very low, which will allow us to modify our safety mitigation measures.  However, please understand that if the COVID metrics were to increase and/or the CDC and IDPH modify the guidance for schools, we will need to elevate our mitigation measures.
  
Some key elements of our safety mitigation strategy for the 2021-22 school year include:
  • A return to an in-person, standard 10-period school day, including lunch served in our cafeteria.
  • A return to full in-person, regularly scheduled extracurricular programs, such as clubs, sports and activities.
  • We join health experts in strongly encouraging people to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Vaccination locations and resources are available at this link.  
  • In accordance with guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health, unvaccinated individuals should wear masks that cover their nose and mouth while indoors. Fully vaccinated staff and students may choose to wear a mask, but it is not required. 
  • While the CDC and IDPH note that unvaccinated individuals should wear masks indoors, the guidance is not a mandate for schools to require individuals to wear masks.  Given the current COVID-19 metrics in our community, masks will not be mandated at this time. The requirements for masks could change if our area sees an increase in cases or the guidance from the Cook County Health Department, IDPH, or CDC changes.
  • All students and staff while riding buses or other school vehicles will be required to wear masks.
  • We will adhere to 3-foot social distancing as much as possible throughout the day, including in classrooms and common areas. 
  • Students and staff should self monitor any symptoms for signs of illness each day.   Anyone who is not feeling well should stay home.
  • Students and staff will be expected to adhere to handwashing and appropriate social distancing. 
  • We will continue to adhere to CDC mitigation guidelines for ventilation in our buildings. 
  • COVID-19 testing is readily available throughout the community, including from doctors, pharmacies and the Cook County Health Department. We will continue to share resources with the community to be sure individuals who need or want testing are aware of resources. 
  • If a student is medically ineligible/unable to attend school, parents/guardians can work with their medical doctor to apply for homebound instruction. The Illinois State Board of Education’s application form is available here.
  • We will follow local health department guidelines and enforce quarantine requirements to prevent a spread of the virus among students and staff. (Fully vaccinated individuals are generally exempt from quarantine in most cases.)
  • ​​If a student is quarantined, their teacher will provide them with lessons and instructional materials via Canvas, our learning management system, and increased tutoring will be available.
We are requesting families to inform us if their OLCHS student is fully vaccinated via Skyward Family Access.  This will allow us to more effectively and efficiently address the contact tracing process and quarantine monitoring.  More information will be forthcoming. 
 
As mentioned previously, these mitigation measures may change if conditions warrant. Enhanced mitigation measures that could be implemented in the future may include:
  • Mask mandates
  • COVID testing mandates
  • Daily symptom certification
  • Stricter adherence to distance requirements
Thank you for your partnership, patience and understanding as we continue to diligently interpret and implement the national and state guidelines. 

Free Breakfast and Lunch Each Day
 
During the 2021-22 school year, through our food service management company, K-12 by Elior, we will provide free breakfast and lunch to all students each day under the Seamless Summer Option program. A complete meal as defined by the USDA guidelines will be offered free of charge. 
 
A la carte items such as drinks, chips, cookies, or additional meals will be available for purchase. Students will be able to purchase items using cash or their Skyward Food Service Account. All students served will need to scan their IDs so meal transactions are reported to the state. 
 
Families do not need to complete an application to receive free or reduced meals at school during the 2021-22 school year.  However, families are encouraged to complete the application in order to be eligible for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits. Applications can be found within Skyward Family Access or by completing the paper application at this link.
 
P-EBT provides benefits to families with children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals under an approved USDA meal service program. More information on P-EBT is available here.

Waiver of School Fees
 
In an effort to provide our families who are facing extraordinary economic challenges with financial relief, the District 229 Board of Education authorized the waiver of general registration fees for the 2021-2022 school year.  Therefore, the $365.00 annual registration fee and the $6.00 hallway lock fee will be waived for all students this school year.  Families who have already submitted this payment will be refunded.
 
Please note that Drivers Education fees and Graduation fees are not included in the waiver and will still be charged in 2021-2022. 

 
We will keep you apprised as new information becomes available. Additionally, we will hold a Town Hall Meeting for parents and students to present this information and address any questions you may have.  The Town Hall meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 2nd at 6:00 pm in the Performing Arts Center.  Participants will be able to attend either in person or remotely via this link.  
 
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
 
Michael J. Riordan, Ed.D.
Superintendent
 
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