Covid at AT: How big is the problem?

As of Nov. 5, 2021 Dupage 88 has seen 13 positive Covid cases and 31 quarantine cases due to Covid.

Principal Jack Andrews explained the first step in dealing with a positive case: the notification. 

“If a student is sick or if there is any suspicion of Covid-19, we have to let the nurse, administration, attendance, or whoever they may be in contact with know. The biggest thing we’ll find with families is that they’ll say their student is sick, but they won’t say anything about Covid or if anyone at home is sick,” said Andrews. 

The contact tracing cannot start without this information.

AT has not had a positive Covid case where a student is pulled out of class. “They’re usually symptomatic, so they go to the nurse. They get sent home for testing, and then notify the school that they are positive,” said Andrews. 

The second step begins when a student is found to test positive for Covid-19: the standard operating procedure. This procedure consists of multiple steps for administration.

“Step one is to go to the individual’s family to ask if there have been any close contacts: Who do you eat lunch with? With whom did you ride the bus with? Who’d you drive to school with; were you wearing masks? Are you in sports? Just general questions to get a feel for what the students have been doing,” said Andrews.

The second step is to track two days prior to the person being symptomatic for exposure that may have happened. 

“If someone was symptomatic on a Wednesday, we would have to contact trace for Tuesday and Monday. If someone was symptomatic on a Saturday, it would be a Friday and Thursday thing,” said Andrews. 

AT administration is required to check with that individual’s teachers and go to each classroom. 

“Hey, this student is positive. What did you do over the past three days? Were the desks three feet apart? Did you do any eating activities? Was there a small group activity? If a student is near another for fifteen minutes or longer, that is the guideline, and it’s a cumulative fifteen minutes,” said Andrews. 

Andrews says the answers to these questions are typically no, the students were spread out, and there is no one deemed high risk in that room. Everyone inside that classroom, however, receives a low-risk exposure notice.

“It’s an email that goes out to all the parents to monitor symptoms for the next 7-14 days. If you are symptomatic, please stay home, get tested, and keep the nurse updated. If there are high-risk cases, we have administration call,” said Andrews.

If a student is within close contact with another individual who tested positive, they are considered high risk. Right now, the rule states anyone who is fully vaccinated does not need to quarantine, but needs to monitor symptoms. Anyone not fully vaccinated is expected to quarantine for 14 days, so the individual may return on the 15th  day.

AT also has a test-to-stay protocol, where a student must be tested on days 1, 3, 5, and 7 of being exposed, and remain in school if they are high risk and not fully vaccinated. 

Step three of the standard operating procedure is to provide a message to AT Guidance Counselor Dana Marine, who coordinates remote learning. 

“What she does is coordinate with the student to send a message saying they will be learning remotely. Teachers will reach out and connect each teacher with instructions to send the students. They learn some classes asynchronously while others are done over zoom, whatever that may be,” said Andrews.

The final step of contact tracing is to send a notification to all staff at AT about a positive Covid case. Contact tracing is now complete, and the case is closed.

“In this sense, the person has notified all teachers and classrooms have received notifications,” said Andrews. 

AT Nurse Caroline Precious poses with Covid testing materials.

Andrews mentions there has been one investigation with cases on the Addison Trail Willowbrook Co-op Girls’ Swim and Dive Team. He explains the steps taken to mitigate what was considered an outbreak by the IDPH and Dupage County. 

“Once there are two cases that seem related in any aspect, we start working with the DuPage County Health Department, and they guide us through the next steps of the process,” said Andrews. “The Dupage County Health Department did not qualify this as an outbreak, but we were asked to closely monitor the cases,” Andrews continued.

All students and faculty involved with the program were asked to obtain a negative Covid test twice a week. Dupage88 has partnered with NorthShore testing to come into the AT building. 

Some students had concerns with the procedures the district was taking. One senior, Michal Niemirski, assembled a meeting with Principal Andrews, along with other students, to discuss concerns regarding Covid at AT on Nov 8. 

“Andrews explained in depth the school’s policy and how it deals with quarantining students and what constitutes high risk vs. low-risk exposure,” said Niemirski.

The students agreed with the current policy, but many felt more could be done.

“While I am satisfied with the current policy that allowed homecoming to take place at all, I hope more is done for larger school events like Pay it Forward or Prom, possibly in the form of vaccination or negative Covid tests,” said Niemirski.

The District 88 positive Covid case count is being updated with the quarantine count on

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