Back to School 2021 Health Protocols

  • Health Protocols  • (Haga clic aquí para ver la versión en español)

    Updated Nov. 3, 2021
    (Nov. 3 updates are highlighted in red below)

    In planning for the safety and health of students and staff, the following District protocols for returning to school will be followed. Students will also be given school specific instructions for maximizing the health and safety of all students upon return to the classrooms. Protocols and school procedures may be revised throughout the school year as health risks in our community decrease or increase. The following protocols are in place for all staff and students whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. 

    If you’re sick, stay home
    Staff and students should not enter campuses or district buildings if any of the following apply. The individual:

    • Is sick with symptoms that could be COVID-19. Symptoms to watch for: fever (100.4°F or higher), new onset of moderate to severe headache, shortness of breath, new cough, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue from unknown cause, muscle or body aches from unknown cause. The health department is requiring that all individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, remain home until a negative test result is received by the school.
    • Has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or an unvaccinated individual has been in close contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19. These individuals must follow all isolation and quarantine guidelines from the local health authority or physician.
    • Has a household member who has symptoms of COVID-19, is awaiting COVID-19 test results, or who is awaiting their own test results. 

    District 200 will be following CDC recommendations for International Travel

    Recommendations for Unvaccinated or Partially Vaccinated Individuals:

    • Get tested 3-5 days after travel, stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days. Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.  Prior to returning to school or work please notify your School Nurse.
    • If your test is positive, stay home and isolate yourself for at least 10 calendar days from either onset of symptoms or specimen collection date, and 24 hours with no fever. These measures will protect others from getting infected.  Prior to returning to school or work, notify your School Nurse.
    • ​If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel. Prior to returning to school or work, notify your School Nurse.
    • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not. 

    Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated Individuals:

    • Get tested 3-5 days after travel.
    • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms and notify your School Nurse. 

    Student Attendance

    Parents/guardians are required to inform the school of their student’s absence.  In order to monitor illness trends and to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it is imperative that the school is notified if your student has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and/or is displaying symptoms of COVID-19.  

    If your student has an unexcused absence, the school will be sending an automated message to parents/guardians daily at 12:30 p.m.  The school must receive a return phone call the same day with a reason for your student’s absence in order to attend school the following day. 

    Wear a face covering

    All individuals in school buildings must wear face coverings at all times unless they are younger than 2 years of age, are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.  

    Face coverings must be worn at all times in school buildings even when social distancing is maintained. Fabric masks with two or more layers must fit snugly on the face without gaps and cover both mouth and nose. Gaiters, face shields, mesh masks, and masks with valves will not be allowed. Students are encouraged to bring two face coverings to school each day. For more guidance on face coverings please see D200 Face Covering Guidelines

    Wash your hands often

    You can help yourself stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

    • Entry into the school building (use hand sanitizer) – all students will sanitize their hands upon arrival to school.
    • Before entering the health or main office (use hand sanitizer)
    • Before entering the LRC (if space is being used in your building for students)
    • After using the bathroom (wash hands)
    • Before eating (washing hands with soap and water is preferred, hand sanitizer is approved as well) — all students will wash hands or use hand sanitizer before meals and snacks at school.
    • Before, after, and during food preparation (food service, culinary classes) (wash hands)
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing (wash hands or use hand sanitizer)
    • Hand sanitizer will be available at every school and accessible throughout the building. 

    Breakfast and Lunch for Students

    Students will be 3-6 feet apart as space is available. The food service tables will be cleaned and disinfected per standard protocols.  Face covering storage is available for students to use during meal periods and during outdoor face covering breaks. 

    Cleaning Procedures

    Classrooms and restrooms will be cleaned nightly with added attention to high touch surfaces using microfiber surface cleaning systems. Soap and paper products in restrooms will be checked on a regular basis for added hand washing. Drinking fountains will be out of service. Students are encouraged to bring their own water bottles. Sensor activated water bottle filling stations will be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis. 

    Social Distancing

    Schools will maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms combined with universal masking to reduce transmission risk.  

    • Students in Life Skills Classrooms, Target classrooms or any other programs in the district who cannot wear a face covering due to medical reasons should remain 6 feet apart at all times.     

    Health Office Isolation/Contact Tracing Protocols 

    • The COVID-19 protocols are aligned with updated local, state and Centers for Disease Control guidelines to minimize the spread of the virus. While some guidelines might seem confusing, they are not determined by District 200 staff and must be followed according to health department regulations.
    • School exclusion policies for positive cases, exposure to positive cases and individuals with COVID-19 symptoms who are vaccinated or unvaccinated are dictated by the health department and not the school district.
    • Contact tracing is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.  In general, contact tracing involves identifying people who have a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 (cases) and people who they came in contact with (close contacts) and working with them to interrupt disease spread.  This includes asking people with COVID-19 to isolate and their contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.  In Illinois, contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine is required per Part 690 Control of Communicable Disease Code, Subpart 1.  Further, the Communicable Disease Code also requires mandatory reporting of any suspect, confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 to the local health department immediately (within 3 hours).
    • District communication will be provided to the individuals who came within close contact with a student or staff member with a confirmed positive COVID-19 test result. Additional communication will be shared with the entire campus community. 
    • If an individual who has been in a school is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19 and additional school exposures have occurred as a result of the positive case, the school must notify its local health department, in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
    • Students will be sent home if they develop one or more symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day.Students who are ill during the school day  will be separated from their peers and should be picked up within 30 minutes from the time the school has contacted the parent/guardian.
    • Individuals displaying COVID-19 symptoms will follow the District 200 School Exclusion protocols.
    • There is new guidance from IDPH and MCDH regarding siblings of students who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms  If an individual is home sick with COVID-19 like symptoms or sent home with COVID-19 like symptoms, the parent must schedule a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of notifying the school about the student’s symptoms to avoid partially vaccinated or unvaccinated siblings from being sent home.  If the testing is not scheduled within 24 hours, siblings will be placed into school exclusion for a 10-day time period from the onset of the sick sibling’s symptoms or until a negative test result is received for the symptomatic student that was scheduled within the 24-hour time limit.
    • As of 9/29/21, the health department has stated that an individual with COVID-19 symptoms must be tested within 48 hours of symptom onset.  If the individual is not tested within 48 hours of symptom onset, the individual will need to remain at home for the 10-day exclusion period.
    • When a sick student with a COVID-19 symptom is kept home by a parent, the student either needs to be tested and submit a negative result or they can choose to stay home for the 10-day exclusion period. As of 9/29/21, the health department will no longer allow the school district to accept an alternative diagnosis from a physician for return to school when students are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.  If your student is sick with COVID-19 symptoms, he/she will either need to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test or stay home from school for the entire 10-day exclusion period. 
    • If your student develops symptoms over the weekend, please keep your student at home and test your student over the weekend if you are able to secure an appointment.  Curative is open for testing on the weekend as well as other testing providers such as Walgreens and CVS.  Your primary care provider may also have options for testing during the weekend. 
    • Home tests cannot be accepted by the school district per the health department and that the test will need to be backed up with a lab test performed at an approved testing facility. Some options for COVID-19 testing facilities in our community include: 
    • If an individual in your household has tested positive for COVID-19 or if an individual in your household is being tested for COVID-19 and there is high suspicion that the individual may test positive, all individuals who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated  in your household should remain at home.  In addition, please notify your school nurse. This has been an issue with students who live with a positive sibling and return to school because they don’t have symptoms. If that student later develops symptoms and tests positive, the student can potentially expose several other students on our school buses as individuals become contagious 2 days prior to symptom onset. 
    • Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be permitted to return to school when:
      • 10 days have passed since symptoms began and
      • They are 24 hours fever-free without using fever-reducing medication; and
      • Improved symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing, etc.); and
      • Other criteria is met per the District 200 School Exclusion Chart 
    • Individuals who are excluded from school due to COVID-19 symptoms will be permitted to return to school when:
      • a negative COVID-19 test is submitted to the school. If a parent/guardian does not want to  test their student, then the student must remain at home for a 10 day exclusion period from symptom onset. 
    • The four exclusion options * provided by IDPH/MCDH are available to students only for COVID-19 exposures that occurred at school.  In general exposures that occur outside the school will require a 14-calendar day exclusion from school.  COVID exposures outside the school setting will be investigated on a case-by-case basis by the McHenry County Department of Health.  

      Options 2, 3, and 4 may not be available to all students. The availability of these options is determined by the school and/or MCDH and may change based on the circumstances of your child's exposure to COVID-19 or the level of community transmission in McHenry County.  These options are for return to school and/or extracurriculars only. The student should follow the standard exclusion period (14 days) outside of these settings.

      Option 1:  Close contact stays home for 14 calendar daysDate of last exposure is considered day 0.  After that time, the student may return to school if the student did not test positive for COVID-19 and is not experiencing any COVID-like symptoms. Students should still avoid contact with others outside of school during this period of time.

      Option 2:  Close contact stays home for 10 calendar days Date of last exposure is considered day 0. 

      • Must obtain proof of a negative PCR test collected on day 9 or day 10. The earliest the student can return to school is day 11, on the condition that the negative PCR test result from day 9 or 10 is provided to the School Nurse. 
      • The student may return to school after submitting the negative PCR test result to the school if not experiencing any COVID-like symptoms and if physical distancing and masking are in place.
      • Students should still avoid contact with others outside of school during this period of time.

      Option 3 Close contact stays home for 7 calendar days Date of last exposure is considered day 0.

      • Must obtain proof of a negative PCR test collected on day 6 or day 7. The earliest the student can return to school is day 8, on the condition that the negative PCR test result from day 9 or 10 is provided to the School Nurse. 
      • The student may return to school after submitting the negative PCR test result to the school if not experiencing any COVID-like symptoms and if physical distancing and masking are in place.
      • Students should still avoid contact with others outside of school during this period of time.

      Option 4 Test-to-Stay Strategy. The district will offer BinaxNow rapid antigen testing for students who are identified as a close contact during a school exposure in the coming weeks.  The Parent/Guardian will be notified if your student is eligible for the testing and the parent/guardian will have to consent to the testing. 

    • An individual will not be excluded from school after exposure to a positive COVID-19 case if the student remains free from symptoms after the exposure and is fully vaccinated by meeting the following criteria:  >2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a two dose series.  Your student should be monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 after the exposure, should remain at home if symptoms develop and should test 5-7 days after exposure if symptoms develop. Students who are a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case and have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days do not need to be excluded from school. Your School Nurse nurse must confirm the positive test result.
    • In the event that you are contacted by McHenry County Department of Health officials following the results of a positive COVID-19 test or close contact to a confirmed case, please cooperate with that process. Identifying potential contacts and effective quarantine/isolation procedures are critical to containing the spread of the virus in our community.

    School Health Office Changes

    There will be separate areas created in our health clinics – one for regular care and an isolated area for anyone who presents signs or symptoms of illness.  If you receive notification that your student was placed in the isolation area, please pick your student up within 30 minutes of the phone call.  

    Due to restrictions on visitor policies, parents will no longer be allowed to bring medications into the health clinics. If you need to provide medication for your child, a nurse will meet you in a designated area. 

    Please reach out to your school nurse if you have specific concerns regarding your child’s medical care. 

    School Bus Health Protocols

    Although the district is implementing safety protocols and disinfecting efforts, families are encouraged to drop students off, carpool or walk with their students to school to reduce possible exposure on buses.

    • Drivers and students are required to wear face coverings while on the bus.
    • Buses will be disinfected.
    • Students will have assigned seats. This is important in the event that there is a positive case as it will support contact tracing and notification to families.
    • Students are expected to practice social distancing while waiting for and approaching the school bus.
    • Students will be seated starting from the back seats, then toward the front 
    • Students will unload at the school from the front of the bus to the back.

    Water Fountains

    All water fountains have been disabled.  Water bottle filling stations have been added where possible.  Please send your student to school with a refillable water bottle.  At the middle school and high school please send your child to school with a clear refillable water bottle. 


    Individuals 5 years and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.  Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.  If you are in need of information to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, please visit this page: vaccine information.


    We are increasing our air flow system in all of our buildings for increased ventilation.  Prior to the pandemic, we ran the systems roughly from start bell to stop bell.  During the pandemic, we ran the systems additional hours before and after school.  This year, we will run the systems 24 hours a day to provide for increased fresh air, increased ventilation and increased air changes in our buildings.

    For more information please visit, and this school guidance document from the McHenry County Department of Health.