It is important to note the following:
While Bernard Zell has done everything possible to eliminate risk, no environment can be totally risk-free. Please click here to read our notice of risk of in-person instruction.
CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, and Chicago Department of Public Health update their guidance very frequently. BZ will update its own guidance accordingly and seek to provide clarification when guidance conflicts or is ambiguous.
A wellness tracker will provide guidance around staying at home, but it does not diagnose COVID-19.
Cold symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms in children are extremely similar. Because of this, a wellness tracker is as likely to flag a student with multiple cold symptoms and allergies as COVID-19. We ask that parents and faculty exercise an abundance of caution and keep both the student and siblings home, and contact your physician.
The Chicago Department of Public Health now recommends that all symptomatic students be tested for COVID-19.
A rapid test is not considered sufficient to return the student to school, and we ask that students wait to return pending a standard molecular PCR test.
Faculty and parents will be informed if they or their student has had a close contact with someone with a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 -- this is defined as a primary exposure. We do not report to families if your child has had a secondary exposure, i.e., that they have been in contact with someone who has had a primary exposure, but is not a suspected or diagnosed case of COVID-19. We will inform the school broadly when we have a case, but no specific identifying information will be provided.
Close contact is defined by the CDC as an encounter within 6’ feet for more than 15 minutes, starting from 48 hours before symptom onset or specimen collection of a confirmed diagnosis. Depending on the encounter, not all such interactions will qualify as close contact. Mitigating factors may include whether the encounter was outside; on the other hand direct contact (such as being sneezed on) may also qualify as close contact even if the encounter was less than 15 minutes. Please visit cdc.gov and Illinois State Board of Education for more information on what qualifies as close contact.
It is important to note then that in some divisions, students in a cohort may not always meet the definition of close contact (primary exposure) if masking and social distancing are maintained. Per ISBE/IDPH guidance, if someone in the cohort tests positive, only students or faculty who were within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes need to isolate. However, CDPH recommends the entire cohort stay home if there is any doubt. BZ will start the year with CDPH’s more conservative guidance and asking cohorts to stay home regardless of the degree of exposure.
Self-isolation for a contact of a contact (e.g., siblings or family members) is not required nor recommended by IDPH, CDPH, or the CDC. We ask that an exposed student isolate within the home; e.g., not share utensils, wear masks even in the home if 6' distancing is not possible, and have a dedicated bathroom and bedroom. We will not be asking siblings to stay home UNLESS these isolation guidelines cannot be maintained.
We strongly recommend that anyone who has had a primary exposure be tested 5-9 days after that exposure for COVID-19. Testing before that 5-9 day window may result in a false negative.
Always contact your family physician to let them know if you have sought testing and, if returning after a positive diagnosis, confirm your ability to return to school.
For further guidance, please review IDPH’s guidance on close contact and isolation as well as IDPH/ISBE Exclusion Decision Tree.
- The wellness tracker says my child is safe to go in but I feel they are not well?
- The wellness tracker says to keep my child home but I think my child is fine?
- My child has a fever of 100.4 or higher but I believe it is due to something other than COVID-19
- My child has no symptoms, but a household member with no symptoms has been asked to isolate due to close contact with a COVID patient
- My child has no symptoms but has been informed they were in close contact with a positive case (not due to cohort closure)
- My child has no symptoms, but their cohort has been asked to stay home for 14 days
- My child has no symptoms but a household member is exhibiting symptoms that I suspect are COVID-19
- My child has no symptoms, but another household member has a confirmed diagnosis
- My child is showing COVID symptoms, and an adult at home has a suspected or confirmed diagnosis
- My child has a confirmed diagnosis
- A teacher has a suspected diagnosis
- Teacher has a confirmed case
- Emerging health conditions are such that the campus is not deemed safe for continued operations or our academic goals cannot be met in-person
- State or local government mandates school closure