DIXON – Dixon Public Schools adopted its return-to-learn plan, as required by the federal government for the district to continue receiving COVID-19 recovery money in the form of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, better known as ESSER funds.
The plan is 11 pages long and includes quarantine procedures by age group: elementary, middle school and high school. The first page includes the hopeful goal that the district “conduct a normal school year for students and staff in a safe and orderly environment.”
Superintendent Margo Empen gave the board of education a brief overview of the plan, touching briefly on mitigations such as cleaning and social distancing.
“The goal is to keep these environments clean and healthy,” said Empen, eager to go through the year without an outbreak that requires closing facilities, even temporary, as was the case last year. “Go full days, five days a week.”
The district will continue to offer Binax testing, an antigen testing protocol for COVID-19.
The document provides a helpful flowchart on return-to-school procedures for students and staff members who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms and those who test positive for the virus. One approach is symptom based, another is test based and yet another for the diagnosis of an alternate cause of symptoms.
The flowchart does carry a disclaimer: The Illinois Department of Public Health strongly recommends medical evaluation and testing for all persons with COVID-like symptoms and that districts are instructed to notify public health officials with the names of students and employees who are confirmed positive or suspected of having COVID-19.
“Really, we are about as normal of a start to the school year as we’ve had in 2½ years,” Empen said. “That is quite welcome.”
Board President Linda Wegner softly chided Empen, fearful of jinxing things: “You shouldn’t say that out loud.”
“I know,” Empen said with a chuckle.