August 2, 2021
On August 16, 2021, our students and staff will return for in-person learning with a later start time and a new block schedule. Our teachers, staff, and administrators cannot wait to see our students fully in-person for the first time in nearly a year and a half, and preparations are underway. What a welcome change from the situation we faced last year!
Yet, COVID still presents us with challenges. I sent a message on July 23 to the community stating that District 127 would not mandate that masks be worn at all times by students and staff. I also stated we would continue to monitor the health situation in the community and adjust our mitigation strategies if necessary. Since July 23, much has changed.
At this time, we must require all students, staff, and visitors to wear a face-covering while in District 127 buildings and on school buses. This decision is made to prioritize public health and to ensure we can keep our students and staff healthy and present in our buildings. Correct and consistent mask-wearing by all individuals minimizes the potential for outbreaks as well as the number of students who may have to quarantine in the event of close contact with a positive case. (Link).
Since my initial email about masking on July 23, we have seen the following developments:
Lake County has now moved to “Substantial” community transmission of COVID, an escalation from “Low” and “Moderate” transmission in less than one month. (Link)
Based on the rapid spread of the delta variant, the US Centers for Disease Control recommended that all teachers, staff, students, and visitors in schools wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. (Link)
The Illinois Department of Public Health recommended that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask indoors in K-12 schools until more people are vaccinated. (Link)
New research found that the delta variant is more transmissible than other versions of COVID-19, with unvaccinated people at particularly higher risk. The delta variant is now the dominant strain in the United States. (Link)
Although breakthrough cases are rare and vaccinated people don’t get as sick, new research has also shown that the vaccinated can transmit the delta variant just as much as non-vaccinated people. (Link)
We hope that universal masking is a temporary development, and that increased prevention measures and increased rates of vaccination will stop this new spread of the COVID through our community. If you need to find a vaccination site, please see the State of Illinois Vaccination Location page.
More information will come soon from our buildings regarding start-of-school activities and weekly SHIELD PCR Testing program, scheduled to start at the end of August. For updated information on school policies and procedures, please see the new “2021-2022 Return to Learn for Staff and Community” document. Thank you for your continued support.
Dr. Mikkel Storaasli
Superintendent, Grayslake Community High School District 127