After announcing last week that all athletics, club meetings and performances would be postponed because of ongoing increases in COVID cases at the school, officials at Oak Park River Forest High School have reinstated those programs, saying that increases in compliance with new mitigations will allow for those activities to move forward.
In a letter to staff, students and family Monday, OPRF Superintendent Dr. Greg Johnson said that students are doing an “excellent job” of complying with new requirements, and that as a result all sporting events, club activities and performances will be allowed to resume Tuesday.
The new mitigations include a requirement for all students and staff to wear KN95 or surgical masks while on school grounds. Students who don’t have the proper masks can get them as they enter the building, according to the email.
Students were also asked to increase their participation in a saliva-testing program to help detect new cases of COVID at the school. According to officials, more than 2,000 students had enrolled in the program, but only 100-to-200 were participating on a weekly basis.
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Testing will be performed in the coming days, with students being allowed to get testing during their PE or health classes.
Students at all grade levels will be allowed to eat their lunch off-campus for the next two weeks to help increase social distancing in cafeterias.
The Board of Education plans to hold a special meeting Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the mitigations and procedures, the email said.
“Thank you to all our students, teachers, and staff for all your efforts to help get our students back to the sports and activities that they love,” Johnson said in the email. “You truly represent those things that are best.”
The controversy started when an email went out to parents Friday night announcing the cancelations of sporting events and other activities. The district made the decision after experiencing a COVID outbreak at the school, with 17 confirmed cases in the past week.
“When you factor in the number of positive cases we have against this school,” Johnson had said. “We find that the positivity rate within OPRF is about three to four times that’s in the surrounding communities right now.”
The superintendent faced a crowd of protesters Saturday evening, addressing the decision and the mitigations, as well as answering questions from frustrated parents and students.
“If they make a promise to you right now that they will do whatever it takes to do—do you have their backs?” one person asked the superintendent.
The superintendent answered, “Yes—that’s why I’m here.”