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Culver emphasizes safety for the new school year

After a school year under pandemic conditions that presented challenges to students, families, teachers and administrators, Culver School officials say this fall’s return to school has been going well to date.

“We’re excited that almost everybody has returned to in-person education,” said District 71 Supt. John Kosirog.

That return has been conducted under careful COVID-19 safety protocols, including student distancing (three feet apart in class, six feet apart during lunch) and use of masks. Culver also has adopted regular testing — the SHIELD Illinois program created by University of Illinois scientists — for those students whose families agree to participate. About half of Culver’s students engage in the saliva testing, Kosirog said.

The district has used its strengths to advantage, with low class sizes and sufficient space to allow students to spread out. To maintain safety, school officials have added lunch periods and also use the school’s upper gymnasium as a lunch room.

The protocols and tests have “helped us to quickly identify possible positive cases and prevent transmission,” Kosirog said.

The concern for safety has kept transmission numbers low. The district reported that, as of Oct. 23, there had been only nine positive cases, and 32 students excluded from classes because of a positive result or contact tracing.

To build on the need to keep all building participants safe, the district has made plans in the event that vaccination for those ages 5-12 is approved by federal authorities. Upon that approval, Culver will partner with the Illinois Department of Public Health to hold vaccination clinics on school grounds for students whose families want it. Tentative dates are Nov. 10 and Dec. 1, from 3-7 p.m., in the main Culver School gym.