Quarantine rules remain in place for local school districts


As local schools get ready to head back to the classroom this week, revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will not be part of mitigation plans for practices regarding COVID-19 positive cases and close contact quarantine guidance.

On Dec. 27, the CDC updated its recommendation to decrease isolation for people who test positive from 10 days to five days if they do not have symptoms, but said those people must continue to mask for five days after isolation ends.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) later adopted those same guidelines, which apply to all individuals regardless of vaccination status.

The CDC also recommended reducing quarantine from 10 days to five days for those who are close contacts to a COVID-19 case and have no symptoms.

However, both the IDPH and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) have told public schools across the state that the revised timeframe is not applicable within the public school environment at this time.

“We have been told to anticipate further clarification from the CDC in the near future, but for the immediate time being, the same exclusion timeframes for individuals who have tested positive or been identified as close contacts of others who have tested positive will be in place,” Wilmington School District 209-U Superintendent Dr. Matt Swick wrote in an email to district families. “Unless further updates are received in the next few days, we are planning to begin the second half of the school year with the original 10 days in place for those needing to isolate or quarantine.”

School district officials remind parents and families to conduct a daily symptom check for possible symptoms of COVID-19, including fever above 100.4 degrees, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

“I am sure that everyone is aware of the increased number of COVID positive cases that we are currently seeing all around the country,” Swick said. “As we plan for a successful and safe return to school later this week, it is of vital importance for anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of any kind to simply stay home from school.... Our first and most valuable line of defense is simply keeping sick students and staff members at home, away from our school buildings until they are healthy and safe to be around their classmates and teachers.”

Both Wilmington and Reed-Custer head back to class on Thursday, Jan. 6.

Meanwhile, cases continue to climb in the area.

The IDPH reported that as of Jan. 3, Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee counties, had just three ICU beds available out of 133 region wide. Also in Region 7, 63 of 118 available ventilators are currently in use.

According to IDPH, the test positivity seven day rolling average in Will County as of Jan. 1 is 21.7%, up from 10.2% on Dec. 1.

In the 60481 zip code, which includes Wilmington and Shadow Lakes, the IDPH reported an increase of 96 new COVID-19 cases between Dec. 28 and Jan. 4. During that same time in the 60408 zip code for Braidwood, the number of new reported cases was 41.

The Wilmington Public Library will host a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic for both children and adults on Saturday, Jan. 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 9 from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. Appointments can be scheduled at https://events.juvare.com/IL-IDPH/oooyn/1204279/