2021-22 COVID Updates

September 10, 2021

Dear Families of Upper Academy Scholars:

Galapagos had three cases of COVID at the Upper Academy earlier this week.  We initially quarantined individual classes.  We have now learned that there are two more cases in other Upper Academy classes.  These classes are in Mr. James’ 8th grade class and Ms. Kettelhut’s 7th grade class.

We have been in contact with the Winnebago County Department Health.  The good news is that they have determined that, through contact tracing, that these cases did not come from the school.  The cases arose outside of the school.  Similarly, WCHD determined that this is not an outbreak.  In other words, the County did not expect us to go remote.  Galapagos decided to go above and beyond to ensure that our Upper Academy scholars were safe.  

At this point, we have determined that the best course of action is to take a temporary pause and go remote for the next two weeks.  This two-week period will allow all Upper Academy scholars to isolate and remain safe.  In summary:

  • The Upper Academy will go fully remote for the next two weeks; all Upper Academy scholars will return to in-person learning on September 27, 2021
  • The Upper Academy will not have class on Monday September 13. Instructors will use that time to prepare for the two-week remote time.   Remote Instruction will resume on Tuesday, September 14.

The Lower Academy will continue as usual and will be in session all of next week including Monday.  

Upper Academy scholars will be coming home with a cord and a chrome book as well as any instructional materials.  If your scholar was not in attendance today, you may come to pick up materials at the Upper Academy on September 13.

Additional information for Upper Academy scholars will be added to Google Classroom as well as our website at www.galapagoscharter.org .  This will include modified schedules and sign-in information.

Sincerely,

Michael G. Lane- CEO

__________________

Sept 9, 2021

Dear Parents-

It came to our attention that one Lower Academy scholar in second grade tested positive for COVID-19.  The scholar is in Ms. Mock’s 2nd Grade CREW.   

Galapagos has decided to take the safe route and quarantine the scholars in Ms. Mock’s class.  Scholars in these classes will go remote until September 22, 2021.  The individual with COVID was last in the class   These scholars should go to their Google Classroom account every morning and log onto ZOOM for their classes.  Chromebooks, for Ms. Mock’s class may be picked up at the Lower Academy for these scholars between the hours of 9am and 3:30pm.

Lower Academy Scholars who are not in the Ms. Mock’s class  should continue to attend in person.  

We will continue to monitor the situation and update you when there is new information.   Please also remember that children over 12 are now approved to receive the  Pfizer vaccine.   We are running a clinic, today, 9-29-2021, to provide free immunizations.  Nearly 90% of our staff are vaccinated, so we do believe in it’s usefulness and safety.

Sincerely,

Michael G. Lane – CEO

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Sept 7, 2021

Dear Parents-

It came to our attention that three Upper Academy siblings tested positive for COVID-19.  The scholars are in Ms. Johnson’s 8th Grade CREW, Ms. Thomas’ 6th grade CREW, and Mr. Oliver’s (Lake Forest) 5th grade CREW.  The current CDC guidance is that classes do not have to be quarantined if social distancing and masking protocols are followed.   Galapagos does enforce masking  and the current 3ft social distancing protocols.   This means that scholars in the class do not have to automatically be quarantined.   Additionally,  Galapagos makes every effort to ensure that classes do not mix with other classes.   This means that scholars in other classes do not need to be quarantined.  

Galapagos has decided to take the safe route and quarantine the scholars in the classes in which there was a positive COVID case.  This means that  only the following three classes:  Johnson’s 8th Grade CREW, Ms. Thomas’ 6th grade CREW, and Mr. Oliver’s (Lake Forest) 5th grade CREW will be quarantined at this time.  Scholars in these classes will go remote until September 22, 2021.  These scholars should go to their Google Classroom account every morning and log onto ZOOM for their classes.  Chromebooks may be picked up at the Upper Academy for these scholars between the hours of 9am and 3:30pm.

Upper Academy Scholars who are not in the CREWs listed above should continue to attend in person.  Scholars from the Lower Academy should also continue to attend in-person at this time.

We will continue to monitor the situation and update you when there is new information.   Please also remember that children over 12 are now approved to receive the  Pfizer vaccine.   We are running a clinic, today, 9-8-2021, to provide free immunizations.  Nearly 90% of our staff are vaccinated, so we do believe in it’s usefulness and safety.

Sincerely,

Michael G. Lane – CEO

 

GRCS is hosting a vaccination clinic on September 8, 2021.  Click for more information GRCS_-Pfizer-Sept-8-2021 (2)

Please review the following regarding GRCS plans during the 2020-21 school year.

  • Will scholars be able to be in-person for the 2021-22 school year?

    GRCS will begin the 2021-22 school year on August 25, 2021.  We will be entirely in-person.  Of course, we will continue to monitor the pandemic and changes are possible based upon the level of infections with the region and guidance we receive from the CDC and the Illinois Department of Health.

     

  • What has GRCS done to improve air quality at the schools?

    In order to provide a safer environment for our scholars and staff, Galapagos is investing in improved air quality systems.

    1. We installed new air vent systems in the bathrooms at the Upper Academy.
    2. We installed a new air handling system covering the Upper Academy kitchen and cafeteria.
    3. We have installed bi-polar ION purifiers in all of our heating and air systems at the Lower Academy.  We will be doing the same at the Upper Academy.

    To learn more about this IOS air system:

    Watch this video

     

     

  • Will my scholar have to wear a mask in school?

    Yes, scholars and staff, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask at school.  Masks must cover the scholar’s nose and mouth.   Galapagos will provide all scholars and staff with a reusable mask- although, scholars may also use their own mask.

    The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends masks in all situations in which social distancing cannot be maintained.  There is significant evidence that masks significantly reduce exposure to and contraction of the COVID-19 virus.

    Due to this fact, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) have made it mandatory for all Illinois students to wear masks at any school in the state.

    GRCS scholars will have to wear mask on the bus as well as in school.  Scholars will be permitted to take masks off while eating lunch at socially distanced café tables.  Scholars will also be allowed to remove masks during certain wellness activities taking place outside.    

  • Will there be bus transportation for my child?

    Yes, there is bus transportation available for your child as long as:

    1. You live more than 1.5 miles from the campus that your child is attending.
    2. You have confirmed your need for transportation by filling out the transportation from by Jul7 27, 2021.  (Forms filled out after this time are not guaranteed to receive transportation by the first day of school.)

    Transportation Form

  • What are the expectations for social distancing?

    Social distancing is a proven practice that helps reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus.  Generally, it is recommended to try to maintain three to six feet between individuals.  The reality is that within a school this is not always possible.  However, we are doing what we can to provide social distancing whenever possible. 

    The ways in which we are doing this include:

    1. Adding new furniture to K-2 classes that allow for more social distancing.  In years past K-2 scholars shared tables, they will now sit at individual desks like the 3-8th grade scholars.
    2. Posting signage throughout the school to indicate social distancing points (e.g. by the water fountains, the office and bathrooms.)
    3.  Scheduling meal service in the café that ensure that there is appropriate distance between scholars.
    4.  Galapagos has routed additional entrances for scholars at the Upper Academy.  This will allow for scholars to enter in small groups that allow for social distancing.
    5.  Scholars will minimize their movement from classroom to classroom.  This will reduce exposure to others.
    6.  GRCS has developed schedules and routines to ensure small group movements.  For example, scholars will go to lockers in small groups that are designed to ensure social distancing.
  • What is GRCS doing to ensure the campuses are clean and safe?

    The safety of our scholars and staff is our top priority.  In order to provide a clean, sanitary environment GRCS has:

    1. Increased cleaning rounds of the school on a daily basis.
    2. Implemented increased deep cleanings.
    3.  Provided all instructors with disinfectant cleaners in the classroom.
    4.  Installed hand sanitizing stations throughout the campuses.
    5.  Purchased advanced cleaning equipment.  The UA and LA now both have advanced floor cleaning machines that will allow for more frequent cleanings in a quicker period of time.  This will allow staff to have more time to do even more cleanings.
    6. Purchased electrostatic sprayers that will allow staff to safely disinfect a classroom in 10-15 minutes.
    7. Purchased chrome book carts that use ozone technology to fully disinfect a classroom of chrome books in 15 minutes. 
  • Will Galapagos conduct temperature checks?

    Galapagos requires that all individuals entering our campuses must have their temperature checked.  For example, all staff have their temperature checked when they arrive to school.  Similarly, all scholars will have their temperatures checked as they enter the school.   All guests will also be required to have a temperature check.  Any person displaying a fever will either be asked to go home or will have their parents contacted to pick them up.

  • Will scholars be required to wash their hands?

    Yes, all scholars will be expected to clean their hands upon entering the building.  For example, at our Upper Academy, portable hand sinks have been set up at each door so that scholars can use soap and water to wash their hands before they begin their day.  They will also be provided hand sanitizer at each entrance.  Scholars will also wash their hands before meals.  Additionally, scholars will have access to hand sanitizer throughout the day.

    Scholars at the Lower Academy will use hand sanitizer on a regular basis including upon entering the building in the morning.

  • We are doing Remote Learning for the first time. What do I need to know?

    Currently, for 2021-22,  GRCS will be providing in-person learning only.  If we return to remote learning we will inform parents and provide guidance on the process. 

     

  • With my scholar learning remotely, is there a way that they get meals?

  • Will After School X programs be provide in 2021-22

    Yes, our ASX programs will continue.  Please visit the Shop page on a regular basis to see new and current offerings.

     

  • If my scholar is in-person can my scholar go remote on certain days?

    Unfortunately, no. We are not currently offering remote options for 2021-22.

     

  • What is the quarantine policy for GRCS scholars who display COVID symptoms?

    Based upon Winnebago County of Health Department directives, Galapagos requires that any scholar displaying COVID symptoms must be sent home to quarantine.   A scholar must meet one of the three conditions to return to school:

    1. The scholar  must get a COVID test (PCR) that results in a negative result.

    Or

    1. The scholar  must have a documented alternative medical reason (from a doctor) for the symptoms.  The documentation must state  that COVID is not the issue but that an alternative reason is the cause i.e. allergies etc.

    Or

    1. The scholar must quarantine for ten days.

    Siblings of a scholar who has symptoms must remain remote until their sibling meets one of the above or if the siblings is test and gets a negative result.

    Known contact with a COVID positive individual may require a 14 day quarantine.  (see exceptions to quarantine below)

  • What is the quarantine policy for GRCS scholars who have had close contact with a COVID positive individual?

    A GRCS scholar who has had close contact with a COVID positive individual must quarantine for fourteen days.  Additionally, that scholar must be free of symptoms for 72 hours before returning to school.

     

  • Are there any exceptions to quarantining based upon a close contact?

    GRCS will continue to conduct contact tracing to identify individuals who may need to quarantine due to COVID exposure.   Staff and scholars who have a close contact with a COVID-19 infected individual will need to quarantine for 14 days.  Additionally, before rerouting the individual most have a negative test result with 72 hours of returning and, sign a health affidavit (staff only.) 

    • Generally, a close contact is defined as an individual who was within 6 feet of a COVID positive individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. 

    However, the CDC has provided some exceptions:

    • Specifically, in a k-12 indoor classroom a close contact excludes scholars who were within 3-6 feet of an infected scholar if: (1) both scholars were engaged in consistent and correct mask wearing; and other preventive strategies were in place (universal mask use, physical distancing, increased ventilation, etc.). 
    • Individuals who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine or get tested when exposed to COVID unless they demonstrate COVID symptoms. 
  • Are GRCS staff vaccinated?

    As of August 12, 2021, 84% of GRCS staff have completed the two vaccine shots.  The vast majority of Staff were vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine.   

  • What is P-EBT? How do I get P-EBT Benefits?

    The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is a temporary food benefit program operating during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. P-EBT provides benefits for days that scholars are in attendance and learning remotely. In person scholars that attended remote learning for five days or more due to COVID-19 quarantines will receive P-EBT benefits for those days. Scholars will not receive P-EBT benefits for days they attended in person, days they were marked absent, or days they attended for less than five hours.

    Eligible scholars will receive a white Illinois P-EBT card in the mail with their name printed on the card. Each scholar will receive their own card. Cards will arrive in an unmarked envelope and may be addressed to parents or their scholar. Keep that card, as any future P-EBT benefits will be loaded to that card. P-EBT cards will reload every month through June 2021.

    All remote scholars are also eligible for Galapagos To Go boxes. These boxes contain fresh food are available for pickup every Monday. You can sign up for Galapagos To Go on our website.

    If you have any additional questions about P-EBT or Galapagos To Go contact Ms. Burris at lburris@galapagoscharter.org or call (815) 708-7946 EXT. 633

    If you have questions regarding how this program may impact other state benefit programs you are a part of please visit the Illinois Department of Human Services P-EBT FAQ using the link below.

    https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=131779

  • Why isn't GRCS offering a remote instruction option like last yeaar.

    Currently, the state of Illinois does not allow schools to go fully remote or offer a remote instruction option.   The current policy is to maintain social distancing, wear masks, frequent cleanings, testing and vaccinate (when possible).   In general, these practices work.  When needed the state does allow GRCS and other schools to send specific classes remote for two week isolation periods.

    GRCS we will monitor changes in State law and it’s impact on our ability to offer remote options.