Oak Park River Forest High School officials wrote another letter to parents and students Saturday, explaining their decision to cancel all school-related sports and activities after seeing a surge in positive coronavirus cases.
In a letter to parents and students, OPRF Supt. Greg Johnson said school officials "do not take the impact of this decision lightly," and provided several reasons for the announcement:
- The number of new COVID-19 cases this week put OPRF's transmission rate at 425 per 100,000 people
- Positive cases continue to be recorded despite high vaccination rates for both students and employees. Johnson noted that 76% of the high school's coronavirus cases are in fully vaccinated individuals
- The number of positive COVID cases has increased rapidly, with the majority recorded in the last week
- An average of 50 to 70 people have to be contacted for each positive case
- Despite mitigations, like required mask-wearing and social distancing, cases continue to rise
- Some mitigations, such as quarantine classrooms and smaller class sizes, are not possible at OPRF
"Our number one goal is to keep school open for in-person classes. With athletics and activities taking place this weekend, this was an area of density we could address immediately while we work as swiftly as possible to figure out a better solution," Johnson wrote.
In order for sports and activities to return, Johnson said every person in the high school must wear a "high-quality mask," as well as submit to voluntary saliva testing each week. He added that students should also separate more during the lunch period.
OPRF students and parents met outside the school to hold a rally Saturday at around 4 p.m. to protest officials' latest decision.
On Friday, Johnson wrote in a separate letter that the school has recorded 17 new COVID-19 cases within the last seven days, and have been in "close communication" with the Oak Park Department of Health.
Effective Saturday, all clubs, athletics and extra-curricular activities, including practices and competitions through OPRF will be canceled through the school's winter break.
"We understand that this announcement is disappointing and frustrating, especially as our winter extra-curricular activities were just getting underway. However, protecting the health and safety of our entire community is our utmost priority," Johnson said in the letter.
Johnson wrote that OPRF will continue to work with Oak Park health officials over the next two weeks to determine how to further proceed.