4 p.m. UPDATE -- Unit 4 message regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 4:41pm

UPDATE: March 12, 2020 4 p.m.

Dear Unit 4 Families and Staff:

We continue to monitor the rapidly changing status of news regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Superintendents from the region participated in a conference call at 10 a.m. today with the Champaign Urbana Public Health Department to discuss the matter, which is constantly evolving.

Champaign Unit 4 is taking an approach of caution and proactiveness to maintain student learning and engagement. As a local school district, we are required to take our guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and local health departments. 

Through guidance from the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, as of 4 p.m. on March 12, we will not be closing schools after spring break for the following reasons:

1. Healthy children are not known to get seriously ill from COVID-19.

2. Closing schools may not be effective because some children may congregate anyway, at other locations.

3. Many parents, such as healthcare workers, need to be at work. If these critical workers stay home with children it causes significant impacts on the healthcare system and other institutions that are essential for our community to function.

4. If schools close, some children might have to stay home with alternate caregivers, such as seniors, who are more vulnerable.

5. We don’t know how effective children are in spreading the disease.

6 .There are approximately 9,500 students in Champaign County that are enrolled in a free and reduced lunch program.

As previously communicated, we are postponing ALL travel and activities starting immediately, through April 5. This includes all extracurricular and co-curricular activities (band, plays, choir, dance, etc.) and athletics. Students may still participate in practices. This is based on best practice guidance from the IDPH and CUPHD to keep gatherings less than 50 people. While we know this is disappointing for many, safety is, and will continue to be, our number one priority. 

It is important to note, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Unit 4 or in Champaign County at the present time.

Should a future decision be made by IDPH, that would require the closure of schools, we are following guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education. Upon the recommendation to close from IDPH and Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD), Unit 4 will communicate the closure via our website, social media and our school messenger system. 

As our District is not currently an approved e-learning district until the current typical protocols are relaxed by the legislature or the governor, offering e-learning in the event of a closure is not an option at this time. However, we are exploring providing resources for student learning at home. We are also currently in the process of developing expectations and guidelines for staff if the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District mandates us to close schools.

In the event of a closure, we have four emergency days remaining on our school calendar. If the closure is needed beyond those four days, we are able to utilize “Act of God” days. According to the Illinois Board of Education, an “Act of God” day can only be used for a condition beyond the control of the District that poses a hazardous threat to the health and safety of the students. These days may only be requested after the District has exhausted all emergency days built into the school calendar. “Act of God” days count toward the number of student attendance days and are not required to be made up.

As we begin spring break, we ask you to be thoughtful regarding your travel plans. We understand that many of you have planned your trips ahead of COVID-19, but it is important for you to know that per IDPH guidance, any student or staff member returning from a location with sustained widespread transmission (CDC Travel Warning of Level 3) should not attend school for 14 days after the return date. If a student, staff member or volunteer returns from an affected geographic location within the past 14 days or is in contact with a COVID-19 case, and develops respiratory symptoms including fever, cough and difficulty breathing, school personnel will immediately report the matter to CUPHD/IDPH. As a school district, we are under obligation to provide a safe and healthy work and learning environment for all. If a student, staff member, or volunteer is identified through a screening, IDPH will make a decision regarding quarantine and exclusion, and Unit 4 will follow through on their recommendation. Therefore, if you or a member of your household presents symptoms or is exposed to the virus, you may be required to stay at home. Absences due to diagnosed influenza or COVID-19 will be excused. Cough, cold and respiratory illness will also be excused during the heightened awareness about COVID-19. Any further questions should be directed to their assigned TISA or Katina Wilcher.

The District has enhanced cleaning protocols across its buildings. Electrostatic sprayers are being used in every building and classroom, along with school buses. This is in addition to daily cleaning. Additional measures will soon include using an EPA-approved chemical to kill the Novel Coronavirus in classrooms and buses. 

We also want to maintain a healthy atmosphere at school. Practice good hygiene with emphasis on frequent handwashing as part of your daily routine both at home and at school. We have attached an informational sheet from the Centers for Disease Control with simple actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Please continue to monitor the District website and social media pages for updates and check your email regularly as we continue to provide families the latest information.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to monitor this situation closely. The health and safety of all is our main priority.

Dr. Susan Zola

Superintendent

Champaign Unit 4

 

Please refer to our COVID-19 Resource page for more information and resources.


UPDATE: March 12, 2020 12 p.m.

Unit 4 Families and Community:

As developments evolve concerning the Coronavirus (COVID-19), beginning Thursday all in-person conferences will shift to teleconferences out of an abundance of caution. This is based on best practice guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Champaign Urbana Public Health Department (CUPHD) to keep gatherings less than 50 people.  Any documents will be shared via email. 

It is important to note that there are NO confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the District or Champaign County at the present time. The District is working proactively on contingency plans should the Illinois Department of Public Health mandate future restrictions and/or closures. A message to families and staff will be distributed today. 

The COVID-19 virus and its global impact is unchartered territory for everyone. As a result, information is subject to change quickly, both on a local and national basis.

In addition, we are seeing unprecedented restrictions and regulations on individuals, communities and institutions.   We have been actively monitoring the suggestions, recommendations, and demands on K-12 Education.  

As of 10 a.m. March 12, 2020 Public Health has recommended the following of all citizens and specifically K-12 Education:

  1. Keep Schools Open- where confirmed cases of COVID-19 are not present
  2. Continue to emphasize mitigating measures to minimize the spread of illness
  3. Discourage unnecessary travel
  4. Avoid congregations of more than 50 people outside of the school day
  5. Limit visits of non-school personnel to schools
  6. Encourage high risk individuals to minimize contact

Due to these clear recommendations from Public Health, and the rapidly evolving national restrictions, Champaign Unit 4 School District will immediately cancel all travel, competitions, and community gatherings from Thursday, March 12 through Sunday, April 5, 2020 in an effort to minimize risk and garner further understanding of appropriate actions for the remainder of the school year.  

This decision is being made across our region for all schools. We are not alone in the disappointment of lost opportunities, but have appreciation for the necessity of this decision.  At this point and time we hope that this temporary moratorium on events and activities will allow for future events, contests and celebrations to occur.  

Please continue to monitor our website and social media for future correspondence and direction.  

Sincerely,

Dr. Susan Zola

Champaign Unit 4 Superintendent

 


March 12, 2020 9 a.m.

Unit 4 continues to monitor the rapidly changing status of news regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The reported spread of the virus in the United States continues to be a concern for us all. 

As situational risks related to health and the stability of travel continue to change quickly, Unit 4 made the decision to cancel District-sponsored and District-affiliated long distance, international trips as well as out-of-state, multi-day trips through March 23. If you are unsure of the status of your trip, please reach out to your group organizer.

An updated status list for IHSA tournament activities is available here. The IESA canceled its State Wrestling Tournament to be held in DeKalb. Other activities are tentatively on as scheduled as of 9 a.m. Thursday, but please note that information can change by the hour.

Ongoing discussions with the Illinois Department of Public Health may result in expanding these restrictions. Any updates or changes will be provided through School Messenger, on the District’s social media pages and the District’s website.

Further detailed information will be provided later Thursday.