Frequently Asked Questions About Covid-19
We hope to use these weekly updates to answer your questions and concerns, and we strongly recommend that you read through the weekly information carefully.
Below you’ll find a variety of questions and answers that we hope help provide insight regarding the reopening of Sacred Heart School. This is the most up to date information we can provide you, but please note that our school reopening plan is fluid. The following plans and guidelines are subject to change at any time. Updates will be dated and/or added in a different color.
August 21st updates are highlighted in yellow
August 14th updates are in orange
August 7th updates are in green
July 31st updates are in black
Guidance and Influences
Q: Who does the Arch take guidance from? What place/institutions are we basing our plan on?
A: The Arch plan was created over several months with the input of a panel of distinguished medical experts who reviewed the plan and continue to provide feedback and the situation changes. The plan is aligned with the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidance for School Reentry, and made consistent with guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Chicago Department of Public Health.
Q: Who decides if our school building could be shut down due to COVID-19?
A: If the levels increase and our region moves back to Phase 3, we would have to look at an alternative learning structure (hybrid or all remote learning). The governor could also order all private and public schools to move to remote learning, which we would be required to follow. While we are doing everything we can to ensure a safe and healthy environment, if numerous cases appear at SHS, we may need to transition to all remote learning for a time. Finally, the Archdiocese could also require all schools to move to full remote learning if they feel it is necessary for the safety of our communities.
Q: If surrounding schools do something different (hybrid schedule or all remote learning), what does that mean for SHS? Are we required to follow them?
A: While we are not required to follow the plans of nearby public or private schools, we want to maintain communication with them if they are having spikes in cases as many of our families have students in other nearby schools.
Q: Who will be in my child’s “cohort” and how will it operate?
A: Students will be assigned to a cohort, which will correspond to their homeroom class/grade level and will remain with those same classmates throughout the day. Students within a cohort will remain physically as far apart as possible to prevent the spread of illness. Class sizes vary by grade levels, but per Archdiocesan guidelines, a cohort should be no larger than 25-30 students. Your child’s homeroom teacher will be a part of their assigned cohort.
Specials, departmentalized teachers, and administration will move into classrooms and remain at least 6 feet apart from students while teaching. Students will remain in their classrooms during instruction, while teachers will move between classrooms.
Q: Can cohorts interact with each other?
A: Cohorts need to maintain separation of 30’ between each other. Therefore, if multiple cohorts are having recess at the same time, there will be a distance of 30’ between the two groups. We are working on creative ways for cohorts to interact with each other virtually.
Q: Will the lunchroom be utilized or will students be eating in the classrooms?
A: Per state and Archdiocese requirements, students may not remove their masks unless they are at least 6’ apart. In cases where 6’ distance can be reached in the homeroom, that cohort will have lunch in their classroom. In cases where 6’ cannot be reached in the classroom, they will utilize alternate locations such as the lunchroom, outdoors, etc. If a space is utilized by multiple cohorts, it will be thoroughly cleaned between uses.
Q: What will social distancing in the classrooms look like?
A: Non-essential furnishings, classroom rugs, etc. have been removed from classrooms to allow additional room for students desks to be separated as much as possible. Students will not be sharing lockers, supplies, or books. If needed, shared items will be thoroughly cleaned before used by another student. Students will be separated and stationed at individual desks as close to 6’ apart as possible, but no less than 3’ apart.
Q: Why are masks required if they are social distancing?
A: The mask mandate is a requirement of the State and the Archdiocese. If students are separated by 6′ they are allowed to remove masks when either eating or outdoors. Throughout the day, teachers will take classes outside to allow for safe removal of masks.
Q: When will masks breaks occur?
A: Mask breaks will be spaced out throughout the day. Mask breaks will be very frequent, especially in the first few weeks. We are encouraging our teachers to utilize space outside for classroom instruction to allow students more opportunities to remove masks.
Q: Who is responsible for buying masks for my child?
A: Parents are responsible.
- If reusable: purchase at least two reusable masks per child, with the expectation that masks will be washed after every school day.
- If disposable: purchase one for each school day as they must discard them at the end of the school day. Parents should provide extras to replace a damaged or lost disposable mask.
- The school will have extras on hand in case of accidents.
Q: Do I need to purchase a specific kind of mask?
A: Sacred Heart is NOT requiring a specific mask since fit is an important aspect of keeping your mask on; however masks with writing or distracting images will not be allowed. More information to come on mask specifics.
Q: Can my child wear a shield instead of a mask?
A: No. The current directives from the Illinois Department of Public Health do not allow for students to wear shields instead of masks.
Health and Safety
Q: If I keep my child home from school for being sick, is a doctors note required before he comes back to school? For instance, if he has an earache, will I need a doctors note saying he is COVID free before he can go back to school?
A: If your child has a symptom of Covid-19, he/she would need either a negative test or doctor’s note to return to school. However, if your child has a non-Covid symptom, like and earache, he/she would return when they symptom subsides, but would not need a doctor’s note.
Q: How is the school planning on approaching children with seasonal allergies and/or how does the school recommend parents handle children with allergies? Seasonal allergies often come with weeks straight of runny nose/sneezing with watery eyes. Since it is only one symptom, will they be safe attending school without fear of being sent home?
A: This is why the partnership with parents is so important. You know your child better than anyone, so if there is a symptom he/she is experiencing that is linked to a preexisting condition, such as season allergies or asthma for example, you would be able to identify that, and the child would likely be allowed to come to school. If you recognize that the symptom they are experiencing does not line up with how they typically experience their preexisting condition, that is when they would need to stay home. Additionally, if the symptoms the child experiences make mask wearing an issue, he/she should also stay home until the symptom subsides (ie - they need to blow their nose every few minutes, etc.).
Q: How are you handling multiple siblings? i.e. My first grader is in a cohort that is sent home (first grader has no symptoms and therefore hasn’t been tested)....does that impact my fifth grader?
A: If the first grader does not have any symptoms, her fifth grader brother would not be sent home. The only way the sibling would be sent home would be if the first grade sister was the child who tested positive for COVID.
Q: My second grader develops a fever (or other COVID symptoms) in the middle of the day and is sent home. Will my other children have to leave school?
A: No. Your other children would only be sent home if your second grader tests positive for COVID, or the siblings develop symptoms themselves. If the second grader just has symptoms, siblings are not required to go home (unless a parent chooses to take them home).
A: Yes, per new medical guidance, all siblings will need to be sent home if a child has symptoms. The siblings may return for the next day of school unless the student receives a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or the siblings develop symptoms.
Q: Will there be temperature checks? How often?
A: Please check your child’s temperature each day BEFORE leaving the house. If your child has a temperature of 100.4 or higher, your child should be kept home from school. You should then contact your child’s doctor and the school’s main office. During morning arrival, school personnel will check each child’s temperature and ensure they do not have 2 or more of the CDC Symptoms of Coronavirus. As students enter the building, they will either be provided with hand sanitizer or asked to wash their hands, and an adult will ensure that masks are present and properly worn. Temperatures will be taken again during the middle of the day.
Q: What happens if my child displays symptoms of Coronavirus at school?
A: Per the CDC and Office of Catholic Schools, (as of 7/9/20) the procedure will follow as listed below:
- If a student is exhibiting a fever or two or more other COVID-19 symptoms, they will be escorted to the office.
- Parents will be immediately contacted so the student may be taken home. If we cannot reach a parent directly, we will reach out to emergency contacts.
- The student will be directed to see a doctor to assess symptoms and/or administer a COVID-19 test. We encourage parents to read the CDC guidance for caring for oneself and others.
- For students that see a doctor and it is determined the illness is not COVID-19, either through a test or the doctor’s diagnosis, the student may return to school when symptoms subside with a doctor’s note confirming the negative COVID-19 diagnosis.
- If the student has symptoms but has tested negative on a COVID-19 test, they should remain at home until symptoms disappear. They must provide a doctor’s note or the documented COVID-19 test results before being allowed to return to school.
- If a student tests positive for COVID-19 or does not seek medical attention, students must isolate and not return to school until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation, which currently includes:
- Three days with no fever and
- Other symptoms improved by 75 percent and
- 14 days since symptoms first appeared.
- Students will be allowed to complete and submit work remotely during time away from school.
Q: What happens if a Student / Teacher tests positive for COVID-19?
A: If a student or employee in the cohort is diagnosed with COVID-19, the entire cohort will quarantine and shift to distanced learning (this is new information as of 7/30/20 - the previous version of the plan said we would quarantine after 2 identified cases).
To keep the privacy of those affected the school will not disclose the specific identity of the infected individual to parents or any employees who do not need to know. For example, it would be appropriate to inform a homeroom teacher if a student in the teacher’s class has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The student or employee’s classroom/work area will be thoroughly cleaned. The school will carefully monitor the health of students and teachers who are part of the infected individual’s cohort.
When cohorts are quarantined, the entire cohort (students and employees) are sent home. They are asked to remain home until they have met the CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation, which currently (7/9/20) includes:
- Three days with no fever and
- General symptoms improved by at least 75 percent and
- 14 days since symptoms first appeared or
- 14 days since exposure to the infected individual(s) for asymptomatic individuals.
If a cohort is quarantined, our remote learning plan will go into effect while the cohort is at home, which includes live classes via Zoom, recorded teacher lessons, teacher office hours, etc.
The school will distribute a Cohort Quarantine Letter to all families and employees when a cohort is placed in quarantine. The school will continue to closely monitor the health of all non-quarantined students and employees.
Q: If a cohort goes into quarantine, are they taught by their SHS teachers? (Or by the system the archdiocese is setting up for remote learning?) What if the teacher is sick?
A: If a cohort is required to quarantine, their classroom teacher(s) will still teach their classes. If their teacher is ill and unable to teach remotely, a substitute teacher will be utilized. This may be another SHS teacher or one of our qualified substitute teachers.
Q: What are the learning options for a child who’s home quarantining, but their cohort is not home?
A: Teachers are constantly planning and preparing for a relatively fast transition to remote learning, so the quality of "at home sick" learning will definitely be improved compared to prior years. Since we want students to remain at home when symptomatic, we will provide a format for them to learn remotely.
Q: What about sick teachers (non-Covid related)? Will substitute teachers be utilized?
A: Substitute teachers will be utilized. They may be teachers from the SHS staff or from those on our substitute list. Substitutes will be given additional training this year on protocols and procedures regarding safety and the cohort structure. Depending on the length of time the substitute teacher would be with a class, she/he may be considered part of the cohort.
Q: If school is unable to be conducted in person due to COVID safety, how will preschool classes be conducted at such a young age? If class is unable to be conducted because there is not an age appropriate format, is it possible to get a tuition refund for weeks out of the classroom?
A: Regardless of grade level, if we need to pivot to remote learning, instruction will take place virtually. While we most definitely prefer in person learning, our remote learning program will maintain the critical elements that make up our exceptional early childhood experience at Sacred Heart. Therefore, tuition refunds will not be granted for remote learning. If a family experiences financial hardship due to COVID-19 adaptations, they should reach out to Ms. Fink for assistance.
Q: What is the protocol for children biking or walking to school. Where do the bikes go and how do they enter and exit the building?
A: If children walk or bike to school, they must stop at one of the adults who is taking temperatures and checking for symptoms. Please maintain social distance while waiting for a staff member to be available. If the K-8 students are cleared to proceed, bikers can walk along the east side of the school and park bikes at the rack on the playground and then proceed to the proper entry door. PS and JK students who ride a bike or scooter may not park their items at the bike racks as they would need to cross over several other cohorts. Therefore, parents of PS and JK students are required to take bikes and scooters home. The PS and JK students then go to their waiting area.
Q: Will SHS be increasing the cleaning/frequency of cleaning?
A: Yes. There will be additional cleaning and disinfecting throughout the school day and after the day concludes. High touch areas like hallways and bathrooms will be cleaned multiple times a day. An electrostatic sprayer will be used as part of this process. Additionally, any space that is used by a cohort will be disinfected before another cohort uses it.
Q: Will windows/doors be open in the classrooms as much as possible?
A: Yes. Open windows is one of the air quality enhancements that will be a part of the more detailed plan to ensure we do as much as possible to support air quality / COVID-19 mitigation.
Q:Will the children be attending in person mass? If so, how will that work?
A: Mass is an important part of our SHS experience. The class who is hosting the Mass and their buddy class will participate in the church. All other classes will watch Mass via live stream.
Q: Can we still use Kiddos for lunch?
A: Yes, Kiddos will still be available for lunch. Service will begin later in September. For students who are eating in their classrooms, the lunches will be dropped off outside the classroom door.
Q: What do I do if I do not feel safe sending my child(ren) to school?
A: We have taken many steps to ensure the safety of students at our school this fall. If you family includes individuals in at-risk groups for COVID-19, or have general anxiety, please reach out to Ms. Fink. Per Archdiocesan guidelines, remote learning will be offered. More information regarding continued remote learning will be available soon. Please check back here for updates as they become available.
Q: What are the new arrival and dismissal procedures?
A: We continue to actively finalize our arrival and dismissal logistics. After fine-tuning our plan, additional information about the procedures will be distributed closer to our start date.
Q: What is the uniform policy?
A: The uniform policy will remain the same as in past years. However, since they are not to change for PE throughout the day, students in grades 4-8 can wear their PE uniforms on the days they have PE.
Q: How will lunch procedures be carried out?
A: At this time, we are working through the logistics of our lunch procedures. Whether students are eating in their classroom, or in another space, they will remain exclusively with their cohort and will be socially distanced to allow for the removal of masks.
Q: How and where will recess take place?
A: Recess will take place outdoors with cohorts assigned to specific sections of the playground/outdoor spaces. Students will be able to remove their masks at recess if they are 6’ apart.
Please check back to this page for frequent updates!