March 12, 2020 Message from Supt. Dr. Douglas Wood
Dear Ball-Chatham Families,
As an educational institution, we have two overarching obligations: to provide the educational opportunities for which Ball-Chatham is known; and to do so in a safe, healthy environment. The rapidly developing circumstances of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) may require changes to our usual practices, even if there are no known cases in our area.
But if COVID-19 isn’t here, why should we change our usual practices?
Our greatest concern is not just about the threat/risk to individual students, but also about doing all that we can as a community to minimize the impact as a whole. This is best accomplished through something known as “social distancing.” Public health authorities advise that practicing social distancing is the best way to slow the spread of infection and prevent the challenges of providing care for many people being infected at once and overwhelming our healthcare system. More on this here: https://www.vox.com/2020/3/10/21171481/coronavirus-us-cases-quarantine-cancellation
We need to be prepared
With the rapid spread of the virus and its proximity to Springfield, we know from public health authorities, epidemiologists, and our own advisors that it is best to assume that the virus will eventually reach Chatham. Based on recommendations from health authorities, our district may enact temporary procedural changes, which could include restrictions on visitors to school buildings, possible cancellation or rescheduling of large gatherings or events, and even closing school buildings. Social distancing is an important component of pandemic planning, reducing the potential for exposure of the virus if found in our community. The decision to close schools is made with guidance from IDPH, ISBE, our local health department. Even though, at this time, IDPH is not recommending closing schools, we need to be prepared.
If schools were to close due to circumstances related to COVID-19, we would first use the remaining three (of five) emergency days allocated to us. If closures were to continue beyond these days, they would be considered Act of God Days, and would not be made up at the end of the year if approved by the regional superintendent and the State Superintendent of Education.
If schools are closed for extended periods of time, the district would encourage continued learning activities as promoted by district and/or building leadership, including but not limited to e-Learning.
One last thing as spring break approaches
Any student or staff member traveling to a country rated under a level 2 or 3 travel advisory by the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html) will be subject to a 14 day quarantine before returning to school. Please communicate with your school principal if you plan on vacationing outside of the United States before the break begins.
We will continue to provide you with any new information we receive regarding this situation, or any changes made to our normal operations. We will contact staff and parents via phone and email, social media and website postings, and local media notification to report any important information regarding closures or cancellations. In addition, there is a page on our district website (https://www.chathamschools.org/post/novel-coronavirus-or-covid-19) that contains several links to valuable and updated resources for COVID-19.
We have heard from families who are seeking guidance on precautions, and we have heard from those who are expressing concerns. We all have a social responsibility to each other in situations like this as we are One District, One Family.
Dr. Douglas Wood