Last week the CDC released stricter guidance for travel this week. The update is found on the City of Chicago Travel Advisory website. The Archdiocese is still evaluating their protocols to determine if they will be following the CDC’s guidance to require a 7-day quarantine in addition to a negative covid test result for unvaccinated individuals. Until further notice, please continue to plan to have unvaccinated children tested when you return back to Illinois. Please keep everyone home, including vaccinated students, until you receive test results. Please see the latest communication from the Archdiocese: COVID-19 Parent Communication.
It is essential that if any flu-like symptoms develop with any family member-- vaccinated or unvaccinated-- everyone stays home until they receive a negative covid test or further diagnosis . Please report all close exposure and positive Covid results to us as soon as you can. Teachers will prepare schoolwork at the end of each night for your students to work on while they are absent.
Covid Updates, Travel Guidelines, and Protocols
The Archdiocese has been sending families updates on protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID 19. We will be following their guidance and listed the updates below. Masks will be worn inside the school at all times. Teachers will provide masks breaks throughout the day. Masks will be removed while eating, and do not need to be worn outside. We will continue to distance ourselves as much as possible throughout the school day. Volunteers will be required to provide proof of vaccination to the front office prior to events.
Unvaccinated domestic travelers to an “Orange state” on the Chicago Emergency Travel Order map must adhere to 10-day quarantine upon return OR Pre-arrival negative test (less than 72 hours prior to return to Illinois) with strict masking, physical distancing, and avoidance of in-person gatherings (separate from school attendance). Families who travel to our neighboring states for the weekend that are in the orange category will need to provide a negative COVID test (PCR) prior to returning to school.
Fully Vaccinated individuals: A fully vaccinated individual who is deemed a close exposure per CDC definition to someone who is COVID-19-positive is NOT required to quarantine as long as the fully vaccinated individual has no symptoms.
A fully vaccinated individual who begins to experience any symptoms or illness within 14 days following a close exposure must stay home until receiving a negative result of a COVID test taken at least 3 to 5 days after the exposure and is both symptom-free and fever-free for at least 24 hours
Unvaccinated individuals: Any unvaccinated individual who has a close contact exposure will need to quarantine for 10 days from the date of the exposure OR 7 days, with proof of a negative PCR test taken no earlier than day 6 following exposure.
Unvaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must follow CDC guidelines and isolate for a minimum of 10 days or until symptoms abate and the individual is without a fever for 24 hours.
All unvaccinated students will quarantine if a student tests positive in their classroom.
If any household member has symptoms and/or is waiting for test results, ALL household members must stay home until proof of Negative results is received.
We accept only polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and rapid PCR tests administered by health care professionals in a pharmacy, urgent care, physician’s office, hospital, etc.
Home-based tests are not acceptable since we are unable to verify that the test was administered correctly or confirm who took the test.
Classes will transition to remote learning when the entire class quarantines.
Individuals who quarantine will have schoolwork prepared for them at the end of each day.
The latest Archdiocesan updates to Covid-19 protocols are summarized below. Please keep in mind the travel bans that will continue to be in effect this year. If you are planning last-minute travel to destinations on the high-risk list, please be sure to have your child tested if they are not vaccinated. St. Josaphat school will continue to require the PCR test. Home-based tests will not be accepted.
The Archdiocese of Catholic Schools released the latest update to COVID-19 protocols in our schools. Please read through them carefully. Each family will be asked to sign this document indicating that they have read and understood and to the best of their ability will follow these guidelines and procedures put in place to ensure the safety of our students and faculty. Please either sign and scan this document for Ms. Rita, or turn it into her at the front desk. Please also scan and send in any COVID vaccination cards for you or your family members for our records.
The mask mandate will be enforced in our schools. Under this mandate, all adult school employees and children in grades pre-K through 8th must wear a mask while indoors. Masks are not required for outdoor activities, including sports.
Please note that the wearing of masks indoors will dramatically reduce the need to quarantine students and staff in the event of a positive case.
Other protocols that were in place last school year will no longer be in effect, however, we will continue to practice social distancing and frequent hand washing throughout our day.
Returning to near-pre-pandemic operations include:
No division of classes into cohorts
No pandemic-related arrival/departure requirements such as wellness checks and staggered arrivals/departures
Resumption of school Masses, lunch schedules and services, library/science/computer lab access, locker access, and parent-teacher conferences
Resumption of extra-curricular activities including athletics, theater, music, clubs, and field trips (excluding overnight trips)
Resumption of before-and after-care programs
For additional details on our back-to-school guidance, please refer to the OCS Operating Framework.
Back To School FAQs:
Pursuant to the State of Illinois mandate, masks will be required for students, teachers, and staff, regardless of vaccination status in all schools and other archdiocese facilities to start the school year.
No masks are required outdoors, regardless of vaccination status.
2. Isolation and Quarantine Procedures
All individuals must remain at home when sick or experiencing any symptoms to minimize the chance of spreading COVID-19 or other Illnesses. COVID-19 diagnoses and close contact cases must be reported to your school office. Please see below for examples.
COVID-19-specific quarantine guidance:
Quarantine Procedures for Close Contact Pursuant to CDC guidelines, students/faculty/staff who are masked and maintain 3 feet of physical distance from the positive individual in school do not need to quarantine. This should result in far fewer people being quarantined.
Vaccinated students/faculty/staff do not need to be quarantined if they are asymptomatic and have submitted proof of their vaccination to their school office.
Unvaccinated students/faculty/staff who are close contacts to positive household members, including siblings, must be quarantined.
Quarantine Procedures for Symptomatic or COVID-19-Positive Individuals
All symptomatic individuals must remain home, regardless of vaccination status.
If symptoms last longer than 24 hours, individuals must receive a negative COVID-19 test or alternative medical diagnosis before returning to school.
Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days from the date symptoms first appeared or the date of a positive test result.
We will follow the City of Chicago Travel Advisory for all schools, whether they are located in Chicago, Lake County, or Cook County. The Advisory currently includes the following requirements:
Fully vaccinated students/teachers/staff do not need post-travel COVID-19 testing or self-quarantines as long as they are asymptomatic and provide proof of vaccination.
Unvaccinated students/teachers/staff must follow the prevailing post-travel quarantine recommendations when traveling from states and territories under a City of Chicago Travel Advisory. This currently means a 10-day quarantine OR proof of a negative PCR test no earlier than 72 hours before returning to the Chicago area (or any time post-return, though an individual must quarantine until a negative test result is received). A negative test requires no quarantine period.
The CDC currently requires a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery to board a plane to the United States. Because of this negative test, there is no required quarantine upon arrival, regardless of vaccination status.
We join with Pope Francis, Cardinal Blase Cupich, and our bishops in encouraging vaccination for all eligible individuals, including faculty, staff, and students 12 years of age or older.
We know this setback in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic is discouraging, but with your cooperation, we will be doing our part to limit its impact on our communities. This is a time when we have the opportunity to look beyond our individual preferences and act to promote the common good.
We have revised our Student-Parent Handbook, updating procedures we put in place during Covid. You can refer to our Student-Parent Handbook here and on our website. The following are important procedures we have highlighted below and are subject to change.
All students will enter the building on their own. Teachers and staff will be available to escort primary grade students to their classes.
Gym uniforms will be worn to school and throughout the day on gym days for all grades.
Students in grades 1-8 will eat in the gym during their designated lunch period.
Students in PreK-K will resume eating in their classrooms.
Students will travel to different classrooms for their classes. Mixing cohorts will be allowed during recess while continuing to practice social distancing.
Field trips will resume depending on the venue, except for overnight trips. Overnight trips will be postponed until further notice.
Weekly school Mass will resume on Wednesday at 8:00 am. All grades, Kindergarten through 8th grade, will attend on Wednesday.
All parent visitors and volunteers must make an appointment with Ms. Rita or Mrs. Pelayo before entering the building.
Keep all children at home who are experiencing flu like symptoms, test for COVID if symptoms last for more than 24 hours.
Provide a copy of your child Covid vaccination card to Ms. Rita to determine length of quarantine in case of exposure.
We hope that everyone is having a safe and happy summer! Recently, the Archdiocese shared anticipated safety protocols and operational guidance for the upcoming academic year. This is the most recent information we have received, and it may be updated again before the start of the academic year. The information will impact the day to day operations at St. Josaphat School as follows:
Safety Protocols for the 2021-2022 School Year
Maintain physical distancing of 3 ft. indoors whenever possible; group tables are permissible.
Arrangement of desks should allow for 3 ft. physical distancing whenever possible (i.e., center point of chair to center point of chair); however, distancing and furniture placement should not inhibit best academic practices.
Group tables and other furniture arrangements can be used; there is no longer a requirement that students all face the same direction.
You must maintain 3 ft. distancing during lunch periods.
No masks are required for fully vaccinated students/teachers/staff.
We will provide guidance on mask use for unvaccinated individuals by early August.
Proof of vaccination to help in contact tracing and limiting quarantines.
Proof of vaccination will be extremely helpful for contact tracing purposes and for ensuring vaccinated students, if exposed, are not subject to quarantine requirements.
All families need to submit a copy of a student’s completed COVID-19 vaccination card with beginning-of-year paperwork or upon completion of full vaccination. Please submit a copy of your child’s vaccination card to Ms. Rita. Volunteers will need to submit proof as well.
We will use these records to assist in expediting quarantine decisions and preventing vaccinated students from quarantining unnecessarily. Any student without a vaccination card on file who is determined to be a close contact must immediately quarantine until their vaccination card is received.
As with all student and personnel records, including other vaccination confirmations, COVID-19 vaccination verification will be kept confidential with access reserved for only those whose role requires it.
Other protocols continuing in the new school year as good operating practices:
Students/teachers/staff who experience illness or symptoms MUST stay home.
All COVID-19 cases are to be reported to the school.
We will follow prevailing local health department guidelines concerning quarantines.
We will maximize ventilation with open windows/doors or air purifiers.
Sanitize hands upon arrival to the classroom and throughout the day as a good hygiene practice.
Wipe down desks and high traffic areas at least once per day to decrease the spread of germs.
Students will use water bottles instead of drinking directly from water fountains.
The following protocols are no longer needed based on current infection and vaccination rates:
No expectation for virtual programming
All instruction will be in person.
No cohort requirement
In lieu of cohorts, every class must maintain an assigned seating chart so quarantines will be limited to only the students in closest proximity to a COVID-19 positive student (i.e., fellow students seated in front, back, left, or right).
No wellness checks, we will continue with our drop-off/pick-up schedules, and dedicated entrance/exit doors.
Drop off/pick up schedules and dedicated entrances and exits for grade levels will continue to reduce the flow of traffic throughout our halls.
Returning to Full Pre-pandemic Operations:
School Masses and assemblies
All extra-curricular activities, athletics, theater, music, clubs, field trips, will resume and any new protocols will be communicated
Lunch schedule and service
Before- and after-care programs
Library and computer labs
Use of rugs and area carpets
Sharing of materials (e.g., crayons, markers, math manipulatives, etc.)
Again, we expect to have a final determination on the use of masks for unvaccinated individuals by early August. We will continue to re-assess the above guidelines every thirty days, or as necessary during the academic year to ensure the safe operations of our schools. For the sake of everyone’s health and our collective ability to end the pandemic, we echo the direction of Pope Francis and continue to strongly encourage vaccinations for faculty and staff, as well as students 12 years of age and older.
I will continue to share information once more guidance is given regarding requirements for unvaccinated individuals as well as updates on staff, schedules, and programs. Until then, I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!
SJS Return to School Expectations:
Domestic Orange State Travel:
If you travel to an orange state, you must send the school a negative PCR test for each child 72 hours prior to coming back to school. If you choose to not have your student(s) tested, they must quarantine for 10 days.
Please send all PCR results to Ms. Rita and your child's homeroom teacher before they return to school.
Students who have been diagnosed with COVID 19 within the past 90 days are exempt from the PCR test and quarantine rules.
As of 3/26/21 Orange States include: NJ, RI, NY, MI, DE, CT, PA, MA, AL, FL, NH, SD, MN, VT, WV, ID, MT, TN, NC, VA, AK, CO, SC, GA, MD, ME
Your student must quarantine for 10 days after arrival back to Chicago.
If your student takes a PCR test 3-5 days after their arrival in Chicago, they may shorten this quarantine to 7 days if there is a negative result.
PCR results must be sent to Ms. Rita and your child's homeroom teacher.
All individuals who travel internationally must follow these directives regardless of vaccine status or prior COVID diagnosis.
Details on travel guidance, as directed by the Archdiocese of Chicago from March 16th can be found here.
We are looking forward to our Easter Break! We have a half day for student attendance on Friday, March 26th. Teachers will be spending the afternoon preparing for their students who will quarantine. The Archdiocese has made an update to the quarantine exceptions. Communication from the Archdiocese was sent to families on Wednesday, March 17. We will now be accepting a negative Covid PCR test if traveling to an orange or red state: Chicago Emergency Travel Order 72 hours prior to returning to school. All out of country travelers will still need to quarantine for 10 days. Please see the full communication here.
Thank you to everyone who has shared your Spring Break travel plans with your child’s homeroom teacher. Teachers will post asynchronous work or prepare packets of homework for all quarantined students beginning Tuesday, April 6th. Work will be ready for you to pick up in our office on Tuesday April 6th in the event your child will need to quarantine at home in Illinois. Please do not consider spending your quarantining time in a yellow state after your return from an Orange state. This will help to avoid further quarantining if that state turns Orange or Red during your stay. Thank you again for your patience and the sacrifices you are all making in efforts to keep our students and faculty safe by adhering to the local quarantine guidelines put in place.
Exceptions to quarantine include:
- Individuals traveling to a Yellow state during the time of your travel. Updates on the Emergency travel list are revised each Tuesday. (This includes all students traveling to a yellow state)
- Individuals who have been fully vaccinated two weeks prior to travel. Proof of vaccination is required for all individuals, including children.
- Individuals who have been infected with COVID- 19 within 90 days prior to travel.
Quarantine is still required for:
- Individuals who have not been vaccinated and travel to an Orange or Red state will need to quarantine for 10 days. (This includes all students traveling to an Orange and Red state since they have not yet been vaccinated)
- All individuals who travel out of the country, regardless of vaccination status, will need to quarantine for 10 days.
- Individuals who are experiencing symptoms after your travel must quarantine regardless of vaccination or travel destination.
- A quarantine of 10 days is required for any/all domestic travel (i.e. travel outside of the state of Illinois)
- Quarantine is required regardless of whether or not there is a negative test result, and no matter how much time is spent in another state.
- Quarantine starts the day after return home.
- International travel quarantine remains 14 days.
- Close exposure quarantines remain 14-days at the recommendation of all departments of public health in those jurisdictions in which the Archdiocese operates and our own medical advisors.
The following guidelines are in immediate effect for all schools (no matter their location):
- Quarantine periods for all domestic travel (travel out of Illinois) is now ten (10) days.
- Quarantine periods may be shortened to seven (7) days if individuals present a written negative COVID-19 test result. The test must be administered no longer than 72 hours prior to arrival back in the state. Only written results are accepted (a verbal confirmation does not suffice).
- This guidance can be applied retroactively to any out-of-state travel that occurred in early January. This may enable certain families to return to in-person learning who were unable to return to Illinois by Jan. 4.
- This guidance does supersede the information released in the recent Parent Newsletter. We are doing our best to remain on top of frequently changing guidance from health authorities.
- Quarantines for international travel quarantine remain 14 days.
- Quarantines for COVID-19 exposure cases also remain 14-days (based upon the recommendation of all departments of public health in those jurisdictions in which the archdiocese operates and our own medical advisors).
Symptoms & Testing:
As always, everyone should monitor their health and stay at home if they develop symptoms. Anyone who develops severe symptoms should seek medical care immediately.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever (temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle/body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your medical provider to discuss evaluation and testing.
For severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, difficulty waking up, or bluish lips or face, please seek the closest emergency department or call 9-1-1 immediately.
See decision tree below for further information.
- If your child shows ANY symptoms of illness, DO the following:
- Keep child and siblings home
- Phone or email to report an absence
Any individuals who are sick with or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 must stay home and away from others for at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared and at least 1 day (24 hours) with no fever (without using fever-reducing medications) and improved symptoms, whichever is longer.
IF ANY FAMILY MEMBER HAS A PENDING COVID TEST, ALL STUDENTS MUST STAY HOME FROM SCHOOL UNTIL RESULTS ARE IN.
This can make a difference between having your child out of school for a couple of days vs. having the entire class out for 14 days.
- If your child has been exposed to COVID 19 or tests positive for COVID 19, DO the following:
- Keep child and siblings home and report their absence
- Call to discuss your child’s exposure to understand whether there is a need for quarantining
- Quarantine your child for the proper amount of time
- Exposure or close contact - 14 Days
- Tested positive for COVID 19 - 10 Days
- Please note: Even if you receive a negative test on Day 6 of your quarantine your child must STILL remain quarantined for the entire 14 days. Symptoms can arise all the way until Day 14.
- Quarantine time for a positive test (10 days) is LESS THAN exposure (14 days) because of the time needed to see if symptoms develop in your child.
Updated Emergency Travel Order Information
We are staying up-to-date on recently released health department guidance. The City of Chicago Emergency Travel Order designates hotspot states into “red” and “orange” categories. CDPH requires a 14-day quarantine following travel to red hotspot states.
However, for orange states, CDPH is allowing pre-arrival negative test results (no longer than 72 hours prior to arrival) in lieu of a quarantine. Children under the age of 18 are exempt from the order if they travel with others who have received a negative pre-arrival COVID-19 test. Children who travel alone are required to follow the order for pre-arrival testing or quarantine. We expect our faculty and families to adhere to these guidelines.