Less than two weeks after starting the new school year, Algonquin-based Community School District 300 reported that 48 students have tested positive for COVID-19 and two are in the hospital.
Superintendent Susan Harkin, who presented the numbers at a school board meeting Tuesday, did not provide any additional information about the hospitalized students.
In total, 430 students have been affected by a positive COVID-19 case in some way, including 303 unvaccinated students who were in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person and therefore had to quarantine, and 63 students were considered close contacts but are vaccinated, Harkin said Tuesday.
On the other hand, only two staff members have tested positive, but those cases did not result in any close contacts, she said.
Close contacts, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, are defined as someone who was within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes of 24 hours. One exception the IDPH has is in indoor classroom settings, which require only 3 feet of distance as long as those involved are wearing masks.
School buses are where the majority of quarantines are coming from, Harkin said.
Fully vaccinated students who are two weeks past their final dose of the inoculation and are asymptomatic do not need to quarantine, according to health guidance from the IDPH. The CDC recommends, however, they take a COVID-19 test three to five days after exposure.
Unvaccinated students considered close contacts are required to quarantine for 14 days but may be allowed to return to school after seven days with a negative PCR test, Harkin said. She said the Kane or McHenry County health departments will evaluate each case to determine final quarantine expectations.
Students can return to school the same day they are exposed to COVID-19 if they opt into the Test-to-Stay program, according to the district.
Under Test-to-Stay, which is offered through the Illinois Department of Public Health, students who are close contacts will not have to quarantine if they have a negative rapid COVID-19 test. They will then have to be tested on the third, fifth and seventh day after they were exposed to remain in the classroom.
District 300 will use the nasal swab BinaxNOW tests they used on students last year for the Test-to-Stay program, Harkin said. It takes about 15 minutes to get results.
“As long as their test is negative, they can return to the classroom that day,” Harkin said. “This is a highly effective test that gives you quick results.”
Earlier on Tuesday, at Gary D. Wright Elementary School in Hampshire, Harkin said 15 students were able to return to the classroom after taking part in the Test-to-Stay program.
Even with some students quarantining, Harkin told board members District 300 still had 98% of students remained in person since school started Aug. 12.
“As you remember, my commitment was returning to in-person instruction and keeping our kids to in-person instruction,” Harkin said.
Without the COVID-19 mitigation and prevention strategies District 300 put into place, and if every student wasn’t wearing a mask as mandated by the state, “we’d have a lot more kids out that would need to quarantine,” Harkin said.
Barring any technical glitches, District 300 expects to publish a dashboard with case numbers and more COVID-19 information on Friday, District 300 spokesperson Anthony McGinn said Wednesday morning.
Attempts to reach McGinn later in the day for more details on the students in the hospital were unsuccessful.