Giant Steps

21-22 return to school plan


Last updated: 1/13/22

Note: All information in this document is fluid and subject to change as our plans are further developed through continued collaboration.

Giant Steps Commitment to Our Community

Giant Steps is dedicated to ensuring that all instruction, either in-person or remote, will be relevant and meaningful. All students deserve to be challenged and engaged in learning each day, in a safe, supportive environment. It is our top priroity to have students attending school in-person in order to receive learning opportunities every day that align with Giant Steps' curriculum and your child's IEP goals.

Giant Steps has taken many action steps to prepare for the 21-22 school year and will continue to utilize multiple resources of information to make decisions regarding building operations and the health and safety of our staff and students. Some of these actions steps include, but are not limited to:

  • Attending many webinars from different stakeholders (ISBE, attorneys, state-wide education groups, national education groups) to determine best practices for developing a back to school plan

  • Consulting with our school attorney about the policies we need to have in place regarding student mask-wearing, vaccination requirements, physical intervention, and overall how the state’s guidance should be interpreted for our student population

  • Consulting with our labor attorney about the policies we need to have in place to keep staff as safe and healthy as possible and understanding how our policies will need to flex/change in light of the current situation

  • Consulting with the Professional Crisis Management Association (PCMA) regarding CDC guidelines and certifications. PCMA is the credentialing body for Giant Steps and many agencies across the nation; and as such, is responsible for setting and maintaining high standards that can meet the rigorous need for the safety and well-being of our students and staff.

  • Working together as an organization to make sure our facilities, health protocols, and technology support the processes we will need for the 21-22 school year

  • Systematically ordering, making, and assembling PPE for the 21-22 school year

  • Collaborating with our program staff about schedules, how we will have to adapt the use of materials, and cleaning needs with commonly used materials

  • Obtaining and following the most up to date state mandates and guidance from CDC, IDPH, and ISBE.

Academic Calendar & School Hours (updated 10/15/21)

Our Academic Calendar is published on our website. Below are some important details about the 20-21 school calendar:

21-22 Academic Calendar (English)

21-22 Academic Calendar (Spanish)

The main website school calendar (see links above) will be the most current reference for students scheduled for in-person attendance!

Additional Details:


  • Starting the 21-22 school year Giant Steps will have the first day of student attendance for the regular school be on a consistent day every year moving forward. Meaning, you can anticipate the first day of student attendance for the regular school year to be on the 3rd Wednesday in August

  • For the 21-22 school year, the first student attendance day will be Wednesday, August 18. Hours of attendance for students will be 8:40-2:45 on regular school days

  • We will have early release professional development days for our staff every Wednesday of every month. Hours of attendance for students on early release days will be 8:40-1:40

  • There is a full week of non-attendance for Thanksgiving break starting November 22

  • There are two weeks of non-attendance for Winter break starting December 20

  • February 25 is a County Wide Teacher Institute Day and is a non-attendance day for students

  • There is a full week of non-attendance for Spring break starting March 28

  • The last day of the regular school year is May 26 if there are no emergency days used

  • 5 emergency days have been added to the end of the regular school year

  • ESY will be in session from June 13- July 22. Hours of attendance for students during ESY will be 8:40-12:55.


General Overview of Plan (Updated 1/13/22)

GS Plan for support:

Full Capacity-Resume Typical Instruction with Community Based Instruction (CBI) Restrictions in Place

Additional Details:

All students/staff in-person learning model

    • The summary of the Governor's most recent Executive Order states, The majority of students need full-time in-person access to their teachers and support network at school to stay engaged, to learn effectively, and to maintain social-emotional wellness."

    • Student and Staff safety is paramount. All CDC, IDPH, and ISBE guidelines will be followed to ensure our facilities are safe and the students and staff are protected.

    • Students who are unable to wear a face covering for the entire program day (with the exception of eating/drinking) due to documented significant medical needs (not including autism) may need to have a "high risk" medical form completed by their primary care physician (PCP) indicating the medical contraindication/high-risk health condition that impacts the ability to safely wear a face covering. The form will also allow the PCP to indicate if the student needs additional accommodations in place to access programming because the student is unable to wear a face covering.

    • Currently, all community-based instruction opportunities are on hold for K-8 students. At this time community-based instruction and vocational outings will be prioritized for high school and transition aged students that are able to adhere to mask wearing policies while in the community.


safety considerations for in-person instruction (Updated 1/13/22)

Safety Considerations for 5 Days a Week of In-Person Instruction

  • There will be every attempt made to maintain 3-6 feet of social distancing in a room at any given time (including during lunch).

  • Giant Steps has determined room capacity limits based on 6 feet of social distancing.

  • Each classroom will be assigned specific rooms that will not be shared by students from other classrooms.

Community-Based Instruction/Vocational Outings

At this time, we are prioritizing community-based instruction/vocational outings for our students in Transition classrooms only. We believe that working on skills in the community is one of the most important skills we can teach our students. While we will make every effort to get back to a place where every student is able to access the community weekly, we will NOT be taking students into the community if there is difficulty with following safety measures for social distancing and properly wearing a mask or if there there is additional risk due to vaccination status for students who are able to to be vaccinated. We will continue to prioritize IEP goals while also providing our students with life skills instruction on appropriate social distancing and proper mask wear. Giant Steps will continue to follow all health and sanitation standards set forth by the Illinois Department of Health.


Transitioning Between Learning Models

Despite our best efforts, we do anticipate that there could be times that your child will need to transition to a remote learning model temporarily due to COVID-19. Currently, we anticipate four scenarios that would cause an adaptive pause in the programming:

  • If your child is considered a close contact to someone who has a confirmed positive COVID-19 test which would require your child to quarantine for a minimum of 5 days and at most 10 days

  • If your child has a confirmed positive COVID-19 test which would require your child to isolate for 10 days

  • Classroom transmission of COVID-19 that requires an adaptive pause for a classroom or program area

  • State wide transition for schools to remote learning


Attendance

Whether a student is in person or remote due to quarantine or isolation, daily attendance will be taken. It is an expectation that your child is in-person for instruction unless they are required to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19 or have a different illness that requires them to stay home. Our health policies ask for strict adherence to students staying home when they are sick. Please know that while we are responsible for reporting attendance to your child’s home district on an ongoing basis, we understand that some students may need to be absent more than in previous years due to the current health policies and procedures in place for COVID-19.

If your child is unable to attend a day of in-person sessions due to illness or pre-planned absence, you will still need to call the daily attendance hotline (630-864-3800). Parents will be expected to report COVID Like Illness symptoms (CLI )a student is having on the hotline if the student is calling in sick. The Health Office will follow-up directly with parents who report their child has CLI symptoms. As a part of your child's attendance, you are still required to complete the daily COVID-19 self-certification form every morning BEFORE your child is put on the bus/arrives to school.

Transportation (Updated 10/15/21)

Subject: COVID-19 requirements and special transportation

Special Transportation

Giant Steps partners with close to 50 school districts and there are a variety of transportation companies school districts use to transport our students to Giant Steps (e.g., Sunrise, Westway, Aurora, Hopewell, etc). Per ISBE guidance documents and the Student Transportation Aligned for Return to School document that has been provided to transportation companies, these companies have to follow the same guidelines for social distancing and PPE when transporting students. Transportation companies must also share their plan with school districts and families to address the safety measures necessary to adhere to COVID-19 requirements. Per guidance provided, all students will need to wear appropriate PPE/face-covering (in some cases both a mask and a face shield) prior to entering the bus. Parents will also need to complete the process for self-certification with your child’s transportation company (if required) and Giant Steps (required) indicating that your child is free of a fever and COVID-19 like symptoms prior to your child entering the bus.

It is important to note that a students inability to wear a face-covering for the length of their bus ride to Giant Steps could impact their ability to access district special transportation via the school bus and would require the IEP team to consider additional accommodations or alternative means of transportation that could be put in place.


Masks for Special Education Students

The guidance on this is very clear; all students must wear a multi-layered mask when they are in attendance inside a school building. All students will need to wear an appropriate face covering (mask AND/OR a face shield) on transportation, in the hallways, bathrooms or anywhere there is a situation where the 3-6 ft rule is not able to be maintained. When there is evidence of high community transmission/spread of COVID-19, students and staff are required to maintain proper social distancing and mask -wearing even when outdoors when community transmission is high or substantial in DuPage County.

Special education staff can make reasonable accommodations for students to have a scheduled break from their masks within their school day. If a student needs accommodations above and beyond the scheduled mask breaks due to a diagnosed medical contraindication (not including autism), a "high risk" medical form may need to be completed by your primary care provider for the team to engage in conversations about additional accommodations that could be put in place. Any request for additional accommodations requested by a medical professional will need to be approved by Giant Steps team and School District. This process is outlined under the Health/Wellness and Operational Plans sections of the Giant Steps 21-22 Return to School web page. Once the physician’s note is verified, your child’s special education team will work directly with you to determine the most appropriate plan.


The Giant Steps team will continue to do everything we can to provide students with direct instruction on wearing a face covering as we recognize that being able to adhere to COVID-19 mitigation efforts is an essential life skill. Please consider these two resources (here and here) to reinforce the importance of wearing a mask on the bus and while at school with your child. You can also find additional resources for teaching COVID-19 requirements located on the Giant Steps 21-22 Return to School web page. Practicing each day in different environments AND for longer periods of time will be key to making your child as comfortable as possible for when they will need to wear a face-covering for the entire time on the bus and in school.


Student Supports (Updated 10/15/21)

Individualized Edcuation Plans

IEPs/Domains/Re-evaluations

We will continue to schedule these meetings as we would in any typical school year. All meetings will be held via video conferencing to reduce the number of visitors in our building.

Remote Learning Supports

It is an expectation that all students are in-person for instruction unless there is a required quarantine or isolation period due to COVID-19 or other identified illness that prohibits that student from coming to school. In the event a student is absent from school due to required quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19, Giant Steps will continue to provide that student with learning opportunities through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. In the event a student is suddenly absent due to COVID-19 the educational team will have a least 2 school days to prepare alternative activities that are appropriate for the student. Please note that due to staffing limitations and prioritizing the needs of students who are in-person, synchronous (live stream) learning opportunities may be limited. Remote learning support will not be provided for illnesses or absences unrelated to COVID-19.

Social-Emotional Supports

Teachers and social workers will continue to communicate with families about their child's social-emotional well-being and assist families as much as possible by providing supports/tools that can be used in the home. Topics could include:

  • Talking about changes to routines with a pandemic / adjusting to face coverings/PPE

  • Recognizing normal physical, emotional , and behavioral responses to crises

  • Fostering resilience and other healthy coping strategies

Physical Management

Physical management can be used as a brief and infrequent measure to ensure the safety of our students and staff only where there is an imminent risk of physical harm. The brevity and infrequency of use are stressed given the strong desire to maintain social distancing as much as possible. If a student is wearing a face-covering prior to requiring physical intervention, their face-covering will immediately be removed in order to monitor their respiratory status. Staff will continue to wear face-coverings and other appropriate PPE during a physical intervention. There will likely be a number of situations that will require an IEP team meeting to discuss appropriate educational supports. These situations may include when horizontal restraint is used multiple times in a 30 day period; when the exchange of bodily fluid during a crisis is unable to be protected by PPE, or whenever a meeting is requested by a parent consistent with the Illinois State Administrative Code and state law.


Health and Wellness (updated 1/13/22)

Health and Wellness

Student and Staff health and wellness will be monitored daily through a self-certification process. Click here for self-certify questionnaire. Students or staff who do not have a completed self-certification form when arriving to Giant Steps will have their temperature checked and a visual assessment for COVID-19 symptoms by a staff member. The parents will be contacted to fill out the self-certification if it is not completed by 8:30 AM. Children and staff are required to remain at home if they are displaying any symptoms on the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) COVID-19 symptoms list. This list is frequently changing, and families will be notified of any symptoms that are added or removed from this list.

GUIDELINES FOR IDENTIFYING STUDENTS OR STAFF WITH COVID-19 SYMPTOMS

One or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fever (100.3 F or higher without fever-reducing medication)

  • Cough, new or worsening

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • Chills or muscle aches

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Severe Headache (new/unusual onset that is not related to migraine history)

  • Sore throat

  • New loss of taste /sense of smell

  • Nausea /Vomiting (new/unusual)

  • Diarrhea (new/unusual)

  • Inflammatory symptoms: bright red rash, swollen lips, swollen hands or feet, and reddened or darkened palms or soles.

Exposure in the past 14 days:

  • Close contact with an individual diagnosed (positive test) with COVID-19

    • Close contacts are individuals who have been within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24hr period with a person with COVID-19 or have had direct contact with fluids from a person with COVID-19 (for example, being coughed or sneezed on, sharing eating or drinking utensils), or have had direct physical contact with a person with COVID-19 (hugged or kissed them), or have provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19.

    • The period of close contact begins 2 calendar days before the onset of symptoms (for a symptomatic person) or 2 calendar days before the positive sample was obtained (for an asymptomatic person). If the case was symptomatic (e.g., coughing, sneezing), persons with briefer periods of exposure may also be considered contacts. Close contacts to a confirmed case of COVID-19 are required to remain in quarantine at home for 5-10 calendar days starting from the last day of contact with the confirmed case.

Procedures if a student/staff member is exhibiting symptoms of Coronavirus-Like Illness(CLI)

  • A student will immediately report to the designated COVID-19 assessment room for evaluation by the Giant Steps Nurse.

  • Staff will immediately be removed from programming and sent home for doctor evaluation.

  • Parents will be contacted to pick up their child within one hour of notification of CLI symptoms present at school.

  • If there is an immediate serious concern regarding the individual’s health, 911 will be called.

  • A staff member or parent will be recommended to contact their healthcare provider to see if testing is needed. Staff members are required to report test results to the school. Parents will be required to report test results to the school within 48 hours of their child having symptoms. If the student is unable to participate/obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of symptoms, then a 10 day isolation period must be completed.

  • All areas used by a person that has confirmed COVID-19 will be closed until appropriate cleaning and disinfection has been performed.

  • Giant Steps will report any case of confirmed COVID-19 to the local health departments and follow their guidance on quarantine recommendations. Individuals positive for COVID-19 can anticipate follow-up directly from the local health department.

  • The Giant Steps Nurse will follow-up with student families who are quarantined or isolated to monitor the student's progress throughout the quarantine or isolation period.


Guidelines for Returning to School Following Exposure or Symptoms

A student that has tested positive for COVID-19 can return to school if they meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • It has been 10 calendar days since symptoms began and symptoms have improved.

  • No fever (without fever-reducing medicine) for at least 24 hours.

  • No vomiting or diarrhea for at least 48 hours.

A student that has symptoms of COVID-19, and has not been tested, can return to school if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • The symptomatic individual receives a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of symptoms.

  • A negative COVID-19 PCR test will be required. Rapid is no longer accepted.

A student that tests positive for COVID-19, but does not have any of the symptoms listed above, can return to school if they meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • It has been 10 calendar days since the positive test was collected or since the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

  • The individual has been fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and all other symptoms are improving, not worsening.

Staff who are showing CLI symptoms will be required to obtain a COVID-19 test, and report the results to Giant Steps.

A student that has been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 must follow the criteria to return to programming:

  • Quarantine for 5-10 calendar days after the last date of exposure.

  • Monitor for and remain free of COVID-19 symptoms during the 5-10-day quarantine period.

  • In order to return on day 6, the student identified as a close contact must wear a mask around others, according to the Giant Steps definition for mask wearing, for five additional days and remain asymptomatic.

  • It is recommended that close contacts test for COVID-19 on day five using a viral test. Those testing positive should be excluded from school and follow guidance for persons testing positive.

  • If a student develops symptoms during their quarantine period they are required to isolate for another 10 days from onset of symptoms.

A student who is living with a family member who tested positive for COVID-19 can return to school if they meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Quarantine for 5-10 calendar days after the date the family member with COVID-19 ends home isolation or the last date of close contact. Any time a new household member gets sick with COVID-19 and the student had close contact, the quarantine will need to be restarted.

  • Monitor for and remain free of COVID-19 symptoms during the 5-10-day quarantine period.

  • In order to return on day 6, the student identified as a close contact must wear a mask around others, according to the Giant Steps definition for mask wearing, for five additional days and remain asymptomatic.

  • It is recommended that close contacts test for COVID-19 on day five using a viral test. Those testing positive should be excluded from school and follow guidance for persons testing positive.

  • If exhibiting symptoms or tests positive, then a student must follow isolation guidelines to return to school.

Giant Steps Mask Wearing Definition

    • Giant Steps considers mask-wearing as:

      1. Student can wear a mask throughout the day with frequent reminders to adjust the mask to be over the nose and mouth

      2. Student can wear mask over nose and mouth for the duration of the day with mask breaks as appropriate

    • Giant Steps does NOT consider mask-wearing as:

      1. Student can tolerate mask for 5-15 minutes at a time covering nose and mouth

      2. Student can tolerate 1-5 minutes at a time coverings nose and mouth (<10% of the day)

      3. Fleeting tolerance (tolerating for seconds with structured desensitization)

    • Data was collected to determine students’ mask wearing capabilities while in programming.


ISBE/IDPH Revised Public Health Guidance for Schools 1/11/22

Operational Plans (Updated 10/15/21)

Maintaining Social Distancing

Giant Steps is taking all necessary actions to ensure all spaces support health and safety. These actions include signage and floor markings to remind staff and students of social-distancing practices. There may be some changes to foot-traffic flow through buildings and furniture placement in the classrooms. Students at Giant Steps and staff who work with them are expected to practice social distancing as much as possible. Travel to different classrooms/learning spaces will be minimized as much as possible and classroom seating will be configured with 3-6 feet of social distancing as much as possible.

  • Where possible, desks will face the same direction and/or students will sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart, in assigned seats.

  • Students will not share school supplies; students will use their own school supplies and keep belongings separate or in their backpacks during the day.

  • Students are encouraged to bring a refillable water bottle from home to school. Bottles may be refilled throughout the day using a sink. School drinking fountains will be shut off.

  • Hand sanitizer will be readily available in each classroom and students will be given time to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water several times throughout the day.

  • All classrooms will have disinfectant spray or wipe sanitizer available for staff to disinfect high touch areas as needed throughout the day.

Handwashing

The CDC recommends everyone wash their hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Giant Steps will be incorporating handwashing breaks into the school day and reinforcing handwashing during key times throughout the school day. If your child has sensitivities to hand sanitizer or hand soaps, please communicate this with your child’s teacher so they can provide your child other opportunities to clean their hands. Hand-Sanitizing Station/dispensers will be provided in each classroom and readily available throughout all buildings.

Face-Coverings

Face-coverings are an additional step to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with everyday preventive actions and social distancing. Personal protective equipment (PPE) required for use by employees will be provided by Giant Steps. Giant Steps will require students attending in-person learning to wear a face-covering at school. Giant Steps will have a limited amount of extra face-coverings for students and staff to use in the event of mask malfunction or misplacement.

    • Students who are unable to wear a face covering for the entire program day (with the exception of eating/drinking) due to documented significant medical needs (not including autism) may need to have a "high risk" medical form completed by their primary care physician (PCP) indicating the medical contraindication/high-risk health condition that impacts the ability to safely wear a face covering. The form will also allow the PCP to indicate if the student needs additional accommodations in place to access programming because the student is unable to wear a face covering.

CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Reducing Sharing

All of our instructional spaces will be free from materials that cannot be wiped down/disinfected and free from as much clutter as possible. Teachers and therapists will be mindful to bring individual supplies for your child to instructional periods to reduce sharing. Many shared items are temporarily being stored away from student access (e.g., roller slides, ball baths, classroom beanbag chairs). Disinfecting protocols are being put in place for any shared items that remain in the building to ensure proper disinfection happens between student use (e.g., squeeze machine, platform swings, crash pads). In many cases, Giant Steps has ordered additional materials so what were previously shared items are now student specific (e.g., body socks, weighted blankets).

Lunches

Students will be able to eat lunch at school. Students will be placed at least 3-6 feet away from one another during lunch. Handwashing will be required both before and after eating lunch. Students will continue to have access to a microwave, refrigerator, and freezer at school. During Phase 4 and 5 we are moving to one-time use kitchen products (plates, silverware, etc.). Please help us by sending in reusable silverware from home and we will send it back with your child to be washed in the evening. Please also consider sending in either a reusable water bottle or disposable drink containers.

Free and Reduced Lunch

This will continue to be offered to students who qualify for Free and Reduced lunch assistance through their home school district on the days that they are present for in-person instruction. If you would like more information on receiving Free and Reduced lunch if you are fully remote or on the days you are remote, please reach to your social worker or home school district.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

Enhanced Cleaning Daily Cleaning (days with student attendance)

  • Cleaning and disinfecting student desks/chairs daily.

  • High-traffic areas will be cleaned and disinfected (switches, handles, doors) throughout the day.

  • Bathrooms will be cleaned and disinfected at scheduled intervals throughout the school day.

  • Additional disinfecting throughout the school day to the following:

    • Push bars

    • Door handles

    • Soap/Sanitizer dispensers

    • Partition doors (inside and outside of doors)

    • Toilet seats

    • Flush handles- urinals & toilets

    • Hand dryer push buttons

    • All faucet handles in restrooms

    • All sink handles in classrooms, lounges, etc

    • Handrails

    • Main Office countertops

  • Students sanitize &/or wash hands throughout the school day.

  • Disinfect back of chairs.

  • Attempt to spend less time on carpet/floor to help eliminate germs (hard surface to disinfect).

  • Student AAC devices will be disinfected upon arrival at school, throughout the day, and before leaving the building.

Deep Cleaning Process:

  • Confirm proper dwell time is used for disinfectant on all areas discussed above

  • Deeper clean/disinfect to chairs, desks, and tables

  • Deeper clean to all dispensers, partition walls, restroom doors, office doors, etc

  • All high-traffic areas in the building will be cleaned and disinfected.

  • Deep cleaning to restrooms throughout the facility

  • Additional cleaning and disinfecting will be done in classrooms.

  • Conduct a thorough cleaning of all surfaces discussed to remove any and all disinfectant residue off all surfaces.

Transportation

All students and staff must wear face-coverings while on transportation to Giant Steps. Social distancing will be maintained where possible while on transportation and students will have assigned seats. Students must undergo symptom and temperature self-certification for Giant Steps PRIOR to loading the bus from home. (Note: some districts may require a second self-certification process to access district transportation).

Outdoor Instruction & Playgrounds

Classroom teachers/staff will be able to take students outside for instruction and mask breaks with weather permitting. According to ISBE guidance mask breaks are allowed outside as long as 6 feet of social distancing is maintained at all times. Playgrounds will be open to student use, and be disinfected after they are used. The number of classrooms using the playgrounds at one time will be reduced. When taking students outdoors, our staff are extremely mindful of the risk of elopement and plan accordingly with their positioning and staffing.

Rec Center

For more information about the Giant Steps Rec Center Program please contact Karoline Kordalewski, Rec Center Manager, at kkordalweski@mygiantsteps.org

Visitors to the Buildings

In an effort to protect the health and safety of our community, only essential visitors will be allowed on the school campus/in the building to minimize the number of people on-site. All efforts will be made to keep necessary visitors to a minimum, including the use of virtual or telephone meetings and tours with families and guests. Parents meeting on-site with school staff must follow social-distancing guidelines and wear face-covering when in the building. All regularly scheduled meetings (e.g., IEPs, Domains, Re-evaluations, Intakes) will occur using video or phone as much as possible. For the 21-22 school year, we will attempt to have as many student-centered events as possible (graduations, holiday parties, dances, etc), however, attendance at these events may be limited to only students and staff.

Guidelines For Closure of Schools/Program areas (Updated 10/28/21)

For any positive COVID-19 case at a school at Giant Steps, the school leadership team will work with local officials from the Department of Health and Center for Disease Control in determining a course of action on a case-by-case basis.

Important Definitions:

Within our environment, Giant Steps defines mask-wearing and non mask-wearing as follows:

Mask wearing - Student can wear a mask throughout the day with frequent reminders to adjust the mask to be over the nose and mouth, and student can wear mask over nose and mouth with mask breaks as appropriate.

Not considered mask-wearing -

  • Student can tolerate mask for 5-15 minutes at a time covering nose and mouth.

  • Student can tolerate 1-5 minutes at a time coverings nose and mouth (<10% of the day).

  • Fleeting tolerance (tolerating for seconds with structured desensitization).

The information below was collected from the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Public Health:

Quarantine - This is used to separate people who are in close contact with an individual with a diagnosed contagious disease, such as COVID-19, from others for a period of time (14 calendar days for COVID-19) to monitor for symptoms of the disease.

Isolation - The act of remaining at home or a place where a person was told to isolate and avoid contact with other people until their isolation period is over. Isolation is recommended for those who are sick with symptoms of COVID-19 and have tested positive or are waiting on the results of a test.

Close Contact - This is defined as being within 6 feet of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer over a 24-hour period. 15 minutes of close contact is cumulative minutes throughout the day. Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days and those who are two weeks past receiving full vaccination for COVID-19 will not be considered close contacts. If your student is vaccinated and does not wear a mask according to Giant Steps mask-wearing definition they are considered a close contact.

COVID-19 Outbreak: Three COVID-19 infections occurring within 14 calendar days of each other in individuals in the same classroom.

Clinically-Linked: A person who had close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is a presumed COVID-19 case during the infectious period, and has developed symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive for COVID-19 via the PCR test.


Adaptive Pause: An Adaptive Pause is a strategy that allows for movement into any level of remote learning to prevent disease transmission during a pandemic. An Adaptive Pause may result in delayed reopening at the start of a specific school term or a pivot to remote learning once the school year is underway for school officials to have time to plan for the next steps with parents, teachers, and staff. An Adaptive Pause may also include a pivot to remote learning for a classroom, a grade level, a wing, a building, or school- or district-wide remote learning.


Interim-Adaptive Pause: a one or two-day adaptive pause that allows for the Giant Steps Leadership to consult with the local health department and consider the unique circumstances surrounding a person that has tested positive for COVID-19. This is a tool that may be utilized to analyze the situation, conduct contact tracing, provide notification of designated close contacts, and make a determination on the need for a longer adaptive pause.



Communication (updated 10/15/21)

Methods of Communication

The primary method of mass communication of information to our families will be through Giant Steps email with the capability of using Infinite Campus system to broadcast phone and SMS text messages to our families. Where appropriate, messages will be sent in both English and Spanish. Parents that need to change contact information after they have completed registration should contact Mandie Taylor, Organizational Program Manager, at ataylor@mygiantsteps.org

Parents, students, and community members can also access much information on our website, www.mygiantsteps.org which is smartphone enabled. Our website will be updated often as more details are developed for our return to school and is the best avenue for the most current information.

We also share general information about our program and events on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.



Staff Support and Human Resources (Updated 10/15/21)

Professional Development

  • Wednesday Early Release Days, weekly building staff meetings, weekly classroom team meetings in person, monthly building- wide PD

  • Global Compliance Network trainings - including Covid related topics

  • Professional Crisis Management trainings in person

  • Trauma-Informed

  • Mindfulness Training

  • Annual First Aid/Health trainings

  • PD offerings in-person and remote

  • In-person Onboard training for new staff in person


Additional Information

Social-Emotional Supports

Giant Steps is committed to supporting the social-emotional well-being of our employees. Staff will receive guidance on how to reestablish safe and secure classroom environments while monitoring their own social-emotional well-being. Giant Steps will create opportunities for staff to engage in self-care and periodically reassess staff wellness to determine the efficacy of existing and the need for additional supports. Staff also have access to an Employee Assistance Program for additional support.