District 204 shifts COVID focus to infection control over contact tracing

While COVID-19 protocols in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 will remain similar to last school year, at least one major change is coming for returning students.

In an update to the school board, Assistant Superintendent Doug Eccarius said the district’s focus will shift from contact tracing and quarantining to infection control. The test-to-stay system, allowing students to continue learning in person as long as they test negative after being in close contact with someone who tested positive, will be suspended in 2022-23.

At Monday’s board meeting, Eccarius said the district has more than 10,000 test kits for students heading into the school year.

“It’s almost the same as last year, except we’re not doing contact tracing and doing this whole quarantine process,” Eccarius said. “We’re focusing on whether someone is positive or has symptoms. We want to try to minimize that spread as quickly as possible.”

Masking remains encouraged but not required in district schools. However, Superintendent Dr Adrian Talley said a masking requirement remains an option if the number of positive cases increases in a school or classroom.

“We hope and anticipate that we won’t have to, but it’s a possibility,” Talley said.

Eccarius said if a student is positive or probably positive — meaning the student has not been tested but is symptomatic and had close contact with someone who tested positive — the student will will isolate for five days after showing the first symptoms. Then, the student will return to class while wearing a mask on days six through ten.

Students unable to mask will self-isolate for 10 days before returning to school. Symptomatic students who are not tested will self-isolate for five days and wear a mask for the next five days upon their return.

Students who are not in class will participate in remote learning until they return.

“Our main goal here is to have as many students in school as possible,” Eccarius said.