On Sept. 22 the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) identified an outbreak of over two positive Covid-19 cases in one of South’s athletic teams, Superintendent Dr. Charles Johns said.
The outbreak could not be confirmed to originate in the varsity football team, Athletic Director Tom Mietus said. He didn’t expect the quarantines to impact the performance of the team.
“The teams are continuing to play, the individuals who contracted Covid have to go through their quarantine then they’re let back, just like a student would,” Mietus said.
In order to prevent further spread of the virus, the school has implemented team Covid-19 testing to identify which students need to be quarantined, Johns explained. Additionally, South is following CCDPH standards for compulsory quarantines depending on students’ vaccinations status.
“Everyone who is an un-vaccinated close contact is required to quarantine regardless of [the Covid-19] test result,” Johns said. “Close contacts who are vaccinated and don’t have symptoms [are] not required to be quarantined by CCDPH.”
Furthermore, extra measures have been put in place to further sanitize infected spaces, Johns said.
“The entire school regularly undergoes cleaning and dis- infecting [but] in addition, the school has increased its sanitization procedures and expanded its air filtration flushing in [infected] spaces,” Johns said.
Students will be able to stream their classes through Zoom and teachers have been provided with tools such as monitors and Owls, Johns said.
“The teacher will determine the live streaming requirements of a class in accordance with the instructional needs of the lesson,” Johns said. “It will take a minimum of 24 hours after notification of a quarantine to coordinate re- mote learning services.”
Under the new protocol mandated last month, teachers are now offered remote zoom teaching similar to the remote learning for students, Johns said. Any teacher who tests positive for Covid-19 will be allowed to continue instruction from home.
“A teacher awaiting Covid-19 test results or who tests positive may be allowed to teach remotely when an absence will exceed a single day,” the Board of Education decided at a Sept. 3 meeting.
Along with Zoom classes, students will receive home-bound tutoring with a certified teacher in each academic subject, Interim Principal Dr. Rosanne Williamson noted.
“We offer homebound tutoring typically for academic classes, and [each individual class] has up to two hours of homebound tutoring per week,” Williamson said.
Despite the recent accommodations, senior Parker Krex disagrees with the conditions required in order for e-learning to be provided as an option for students. Krex believes any students who are sick, injured, or at high risk for Covid-19 should also qualify and receive the benefits of e-learning.
“I’m hoping that we have a partial e-learning option for sick kids, [or] at least in the near future,” Krex said. “If a student [misses school] for five days because of the flu, [they] don’t get any of [those Covid-19 benefits].”
To rally support for these changes, Krex created a petition on change.org with over 1,100 signatures and later presented it to the school board.
“I wanted to show the school that this is something that students and parents [both] want,” Krex said. “This isn’t just five parents in board meetings. This is a general consensus and people want this.”
Sneha Augustine contributed to this story