- LFA COVID-19 Policy
- Updates & Information
- LFA’s Reopening of Campus During COVID-19
- COVID Vaccinations at LFA
- Phase I - All community members who test positive must isolate for a minimum of five (5) calendar days. Day zero is either the date of symptom onset or on the date of a positive test, if asymptomatic.
If after five days, the person has remained asymptomatic (or seen a resolution of symptoms, including 24 hours without fever or the use of fever reducing medications) AND they have a negative rapid antigen test (NOT PCR, AS THESE CAN REMAIN POSITIVE BEYOND THE INFECTIOUS WINDOW) on day five (either from a testing site which can issue a written result OR taken at LFA's health center) prior to returning, they may complete Phase II. If an individual remains symptomatic without much improvement, OR if an asymptomatic individual develops symptoms during the five days OR tests positive on a rapid antigen test on day five OR they cannot comply with Phase II, then they will complete Phase III.
To be clear, individuals will complete EITHER Phase II OR Phase III after Phase I, not both
- Phase II - Individuals may return to school as long as they adhere to these conditions without exception:
- Wear a well-fitting, (medical grade at minimum) mask over both their nose and mouth when around others, in all locations, except when going to sleep. Please note that a boarding student’s sleeping location for the five days after return will be case dependent based upon roommate situations and other factors.
- If eating on campus then this must occur in the person’s sleeping space alone OR in the lower student center ONLY.
- Refrain from riding in cars with others.
- Refrain from extra-curricular activities with increased risk such as singing and athletics until the end of the 10 days.
- Phase III - complete an additional five days of isolation and return to LFA on day 10.
- Those who had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and meet the following criteria are NOT required to remain home:
- If they are age 17 or younger and are fully vaccinated,
- Age 18 and older and are fully vaccinated plus boosted, or
- Have a laboratory confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis within the last 90 days.
- Close contacts (household contacts AND those vaccinated but not yet boosted) need to quarantine, MUST stay home, and wear a well-fitting mask if they need to be around others during days 0-5.
ALL exposed individuals (contact within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes over a 24 hour period; any physical contact or sharing of meals) should:
- Watch for symptoms AND isolate AND get tested should symptoms develop.
- If no symptoms develop then the individual should test on day five (sooner if symptoms begin sooner).
- For days 6-10, individuals may resume typical activities (with the exception of sports and singing) and should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others, avoid travel, and avoid contact with high-risk individuals.
- Unvaccinated individuals must complete a full, 10-day quarantine at home with a test on day five.
LFA strongly recommends using a medical grade mask or better. N95 or KN95 or KF94 masks are recommended, and the School does have a supply of these on hand due to a very generous parent donation for any community member who otherwise cannot access these. You can also double up on your surgical masks. As mentioned, cloth masks are less effective against this variant so if you love your cloth mask then layer a surgical mask or better underneath it.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (any of the following: fever [100.4°F or higher], new onset of a moderate to severe headache, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, cough, congestion/runny nose, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of sense of taste or smell, fatigue from unknown cause, muscle or body aches from unknown cause), no matter how every day or minor they may seem, follow the applicable guidance below:
- Day Students or Faculty/Staff should not come to school and should contact/visit their healthcare provider and/or obtain a molecular COVID-19 test (PCR or NAAT). Please alert LFA’s health services team (email@example.com) of symptoms and that you are awaiting COVID results. If symptoms worsen then repeat a COVID-19 test and await results before returning to school. Individuals with a negative test may return to school when fever free without fever reducing medication for 24 hours, have no diarrhea/vomiting for 24 hours, and have had improving symptoms for 24 hours. A positive result should follow the isolation protocol above.
- Boarding Students or Day Students Developing Symptoms at School should go to the Health Center immediately so that the health services team can assess and perform the appropriate testing. Individuals should plan to isolate until test results return (in a designated location on campus or at home). Individuals can then follow the return instructions above. A positive result should follow the Isolation protocol above.
January 7, 2022
Dear Members of the LFA Community,
Welcome back! It feels so wonderful to begin this new semester together. Though this week has been among the coldest in a while, the campus sizzles with a palpable energy, something I doubt any of us will take for granted for quite some time. That said, this pandemic is very much central to the daily functioning of our lives right now and this was not a week without challenges.
We continue to want to be as transparent as possible and, therefore, we would like to share that the overall community positivity rate for the LFA community that returned to campus, including the members who are our Sodexo partners, is 8.5% over the last 7 days. This is a total of 53 cases (For comparison, the positivity rate over the last 7 days is 16.5% in Lake County and 14.8% in Illinois).
As of this writing, there are 10 boarding students living in a separate isolation space, under the excellent care of our nursing team. All of their close contacts have been notified, quarantined (if unvaccinated), and/or tested. Most importantly, they all continue to mostly feel well.
Going forward, we will no longer send community emails with each exposure; instead, we will notify those exposed and will update the community each Friday with our 7 day positivity rate and number of students isolated on campus.
Of note, today, the Illinois Department of Public Health has informed Illnois schools of its intentions to change guidance to align with new CDC guidance. While that has not yet been officially adopted, we look forward to the updated guidance and will review and hope to follow this guidance as soon as schools in Illinois have official guidance documents. We look forward to updating this as soon as we are able as this will allow us to insure the best in person educational experience for our students.
For now, however, we must continue to follow the current IDPH guidance which call for 10 days of isolation of positive cases which begins with day 0 on the date of symptom onset OR positive test, whichever was first.
There is no doubt that our community (and the US in general) are seeing dramatically more cases than ever before. And, though this data may be alarming, we want to note a few things.
- The majority of cases noted in LFA’s positivity number reflects people who have not been on campus and who were detected by our return testing or self reporting of symptoms and subsequent detection of infection.
- According to our advisors at the Lake County Health Department (LCHD), LFA continues to do an excellent job with risk mitigation protocols. Our numbers are below those of Lake County AND our local experts indicate that our numbers are far below those of other local schools.
- It would have been strange at this time last year to conceive of our current perspective, given the extremely contagious nature of this latest variant, to focus not on elimination of positive cases but rather on our best mitigation strategies to slow the tide and focus on the protection of the vulnerable.
- As mentioned before, the most important of these measures remain
- Vaccination and boosting when eligible (to prevent severe outcomes)
- A commitment to masking. This is not for show!! When done properly, a well fitting mask, worn over the nose and mouth when with those outside of your household, especially indoors prevents infection, especially in schools.
- We also note mounting evidence that the types of masks are very important, especially against omicron. Cloth masks are generally not preferred and our recommendation is to wear at least a surgical mask but perhaps something even more effective. This table from the Wall Street Journal is an excellent pictorial representation of the effectiveness of different types of masks.
- Isolating and reporting symptoms and testing when indicated
- Ventilation and avoiding crowded spaces
As a reminder, LFA is also pleased to offer a COVID-19 booster event on campus. This will take place on Friday, January 14, from 12-3 p.m. in the Garden Room. This is optional and will be a Pfizer booster only and be open to those 12 and above whose second dose was > 6 months ago. If you (or your child) wish to participate in this event, you MUST register here. The vaccines will be administered by our partner, Passport Health and sign-ups MUST be received by Wednesday at 4 p.m. Lake Forest time.
Despite this variant being highly transmissible and requiring renewed vigilance even more than during the first semester of this school year, LFA remains fully committed to in-person learning, offering a safe residential activity program, and offering a fun and engaging co-curricular program (arts, athletics, clubs, etc.). Being together also remains the safest environment for our students from a socioemotional and daily virus mitigation perspective.
We hope you are all enjoying this return to school and we look forward to learning together this semester. Please stay safe and take care of yourselves and one another.
José De Jesús
Head of School
Associate Head of School, Dean of Students and Academic Affairs
Anna Kliner, MSN, RN, FNP-C
Director of Health Services
*The article below was featured in the fall 2020 edition of LFA's school magazine.
LFA’s Reopening of Campus During COVID-19
The Prep Process
By the time the Academy had waved a bittersweet good-bye to the Class of 2020 in late May 2020, LFA’s board and administration had already started preparations for the reopening of school in August. With the leadership and guidance of Head of School José M. De Jesús P’22, every facet of LFA’s daily operations was examined, and then re-examined, by dedicated teams for health and wellness, facilities, academics and remote learning, residential life and more throughout the summer. While keeping a pulse on the digital cyclone of news and updates from other school communities, LFA established protocols and policies for building usage, masking and sanitization, off-campus sign-outs and remote classes.
Associate Head of School and Dean of Students and Academic Affairs Chris Tennyson described the working process for reopening of school as cohesive. He said, “The creation of the Health & Wellness group, the Density & Space group and the E-Team were critical for us to continuously pivot with the ever-changing landscape and adapt our plan to make sure that we were comfortable with things. These groups, while also working with the Deans Council, Academic Council and Residential Council, allowed us to solve problems and build out a plan that was very effective.”
As the State of Illinois entered Phase Four of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan in late June 2020, the Academy notified families that the start of preseason would be on August 16, 2020 and in-person classes would begin on August 24, 2020. In order to fully open with confidence, LFA established a partnership with Franklin Rosalind University for COVID-19 testing on campus during the week of August 17, 2020. Close to 400 students, faculty and staff were tested in mid-August, resulting in an overall low positivity rate for COVID-19.
With such success to start the school year, on August 24, students headed to advisory to begin the first day of school with a mixture of excitement and caution. Soon, LFA’s students and employees fell into a daily routine that involved answering questions via an app to track symptoms; attending morning advisories for temperature checks; sanitizing desks after every class; mask-wearing; and using one-way exits and entrances into buildings. In addition to regular duties, faculty and staff took on other roles, such as lunch monitors and extra van drivers for runs, especially since social distancing required that only seven students be on one school van.
Going Above and Beyond
History and Social Science Teacher Ackim Mpofu called the extra duties a part of “communal reciprocity,” in which every person at LFA played their various roles for the larger good. Mpofu was part of a larger group of teachers who taught additional classes to accommodate LFA’s remote students. He noted, “Having an e-learning section was a challenge because it was an extra class in the morning that completely changed my schedule. But it was also a benefit because I connected with students who unfortunately could not be on campus. Having the luxury of comparing my e-learning and in-person classes helped me develop my teaching skills.”
Due to travel restrictions and backlogs of visa appointments at embassies all around the world, more than 80 LFA students started the 20-21 academic year remotely. Consequently, the Academy’s teaching faculty stepped up to hold 30-minute classes of all subjects from 5 or 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Central in the morning and 7:15 to 10 p.m. in the evening. Amongst the teachers was also a familiar face; former LFA teacher, parent, and Dean of Admission Loring Strudwick P’13. ’15, ’18 rejoined LFA’s faculty as an early morning math teacher this fall, and will continue to teach students until the end of the academic year.
With the dedication of LFA’s teachers, remote students continued their studies throughout the semester. One student, Xinruo “Jaroy” Wei ’22, took classes at home in China through the fall. She stated, “I felt that LFA was very supportive. I have heard from my friends at other American high schools that they have had to wake up at midnight to take classes. LFA provided remote students with a special class schedule, so we never needed to stay up late to study.” She added, “Currently, even though we are remote, we can always send emails to arrange cycle meetings with our teachers or to ask questions, so my LFA teachers make me feel like I am next to them even though I am actually about 8700 miles away.”
Staying Engaged as a Community
As the semester progressed, some students who started the year remotely were able to come back to campus. The LFA community underwent additional COVID-19 testing with nasal swabs on campus on September 9 and 10, and continued to follow various protocols to keep each other safe. When asked about the in-person experience, this year’s All-School President Nick Alutto ’21 answered, “Being able to go to school in-person, eat lunch in the Student Center, and play sports after school gave students a chance to enjoy a sense of normalcy in a very abnormal time.” While many aspects of life on campus had changed, LFA’s effort to provide the best student experience possible stayed the same.
In the summer, when the Illinois High School Association finally announced sports schedules for the 20-21 school year, LFA’s athletics department moved quickly to accommodate student-athletes amidst the countless modifications; while boys and girls cross country, co-ed golf, girls tennis, and girls swimming were allowed to have matches, other traditional fall sports like boys soccer, girls volleyball and field hockey shifted into PE options that met three days a weeks.
Athletic Director Darrin Madeley P’11, ’14 and his department members had to deal with daily and weekly changes, but Madeley stayed energized by the presence of the students. Madeley said, “Our students showed me once again why they always make me so proud to work here. They did an amazing job competing against other schools and showed great character during truly once in a lifetime circumstances. The cross country, golf and girls swimming teams had strong seasons while girls tennis completed one of the best all around team records at LFA in the past 10 years.”
In addition to a robust sports program, LFA’s students, with the guidance of the arts faculty, worked hard to develop their artistic and performance skills, whether by creating art pieces that went on display in the JC Cowart Student Center, or singing and playing instruments for a two-part concert at the end of the semester. Clubs and organizations like Co-ax and Science Olympiad continued to meet both in-person and remotely. Meanwhile, LFA’s Prefects, Student Council, Dorm Council and the Dean of Students Office organized themed dress days, food truck visits to campus and weekend activities like Knockerball and tie-dye shirt making.
Safiya Nicol ’22, who is also a member of Student Council and a resident of Marshall Field Dorm, was ecstatic to be back on campus. As a junior, she appreciated the opportunity to learn in-person, and wanted to give back by helping to organize activities as well as showing participation at on-campus events. She shared, “We found creative ways to keep up school traditions like having morning meetings on Zoom or still having our yearly rock-paper-scissors advisory tournaments. It has been remarkable to watch the students, faculty, and especially the Sodexo staff all team up together to make this semester work, and for that, I am truly grateful.”
A Surprise Recommendation
Given all the precautions that every member of the community adhered to, LFA’s overall COVID-19 positivity rate well below the local average. Yet in a global pandemic, anything could change.
In the ninth week of the semester, on October 20, the Lake County Health Department recommended that all K-12 schools, both public and independent, move to a remote learning model as a cautionary response to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the area. The recommendation was taken seriously and required discussion amongst LFA’s board and administration. After two days of thoughtful consideration, LFA decided to prepare another round of COVID-19 tests on campus for all students and employees on October 26 and 28 while going remote during that week.
With many hoping for the best, the community took a total of 475 total tests. Amazingly, the conclusive data showed a total infection rate of 1 percent in the community; the few individuals who tested positive and their close contacts went into quarantine for 14 days. Based on those results, on October 30, Head of School José M. De Jesús P’22 announced to the community that LFA would resume in-person classes until the start of the Thanksgiving holiday, with weekly testing until the end of the school year and enhanced mitigation protocols.
LFA resumed classes on campus on November 2 until the start of the in-person assessment period from November 19 to 24. Students and employees conducted saliva tests in advisories on November 10 and 11 and November 17 and 18. Following the Thanksgiving break, students and teachers had two weeks of e-learning during the first two weeks of December, with final grades and comments posted on December 18.
School Counselor and Health, Wellness, and Community Chair Jennifer Madeley, MSW, LCSW, P’11, ’14 summed up the semester, commenting, “I am so glad that we reopened in August. There are so many benefits to in-person learning. We put a lot of safety measures in place, and even though it was hard, I
am incredibly thankful that we were able to make it through
Chris Tennyson added, “A sentiment that I have heard from many parents and students is that the way we have had to change school due to COVID is really hard, but being in-person is so worth it. Our community has proved its resiliency, its strength, and its love for the Academy. The collective power of working towards a common goal has been pretty spectacular to witness.”
Looking Ahead to 2021
LFA resumes classes virtually on January 4, 2021, with a plan to return to in-person learning on January 25 with weekly COVID-19 community testing. Director of Health Services Anna Kliner, MSN, RN, FNP-C, is working with internal and external team members to minimize the risk of infection even further. She explained, “Currently, we are doing needs assessments to see where our services would be most usefully expanded and building relationships across departments and with local medical partners.” She continued, “While all signs are that the next 21-22 school year will bring more normalcy, we should prepare to hold on a bit longer; families should remember that we are here for you and we appreciate all you do for us.”
With the end of the 2020 year, both students and employees have traded expressions of gratitude to and from each other. Parents Association President Jorie Alutto P’19, ’21 also voiced her perspective, stating, “As a parent of a senior, I am so thankful and proud of LFA for the dedication and commitment to keep our students learning together as a community this year during the pandemic. The herculean efforts of the faculty and staff have successfully put the safety of our children first. I know that the LFA community will be stronger as a result of this year’s challenges.”
Despite its challenges, the pandemic has given LFA yet another opportunity to unite as one entity. While there is no doubt that there are several more obstacles to come, after a historical 2020, the Academy remains prepared to continue educating students from all over the nation and world.
- If you have not uploaded proof of vaccination for COVID-19, we will not be able to confirm your child is vaccinated and they will be required to test weekly.
- Our on-campus COVID vaccination through Passport Health will be on August 25, 2021 (dose #1) and September 15, 2021 (dose #2). These are open to ALL COMMUNITY MEMBERS. In order to participate you MUST sign up using this link. You will be asked for consent, for some medical history and asked to sign up for a vaccination time slot. We ask that students try to schedule during a free period; however, if this is not possible, vaccine appointments will be considered an excused absence for our students.