Back to the Heart - Fall 2020
Throughout the spring, Sacred Heart Schools continued vibrant teaching and learning through our at-home learning program for our PK-8 students. The Opening of School Task Force, assembled in April, has been working diligently to prepare for the community’s safe return to campus this August. This task force and the Leadership Team continue to monitor and respond to the worldwide outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. The Back to the Heart – Fall 2020 Reopening Plans are based upon Phase IV of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, the phase Chicago is experiencing. In Phase IV, Revitalization, the rate of infection among those surveillance tested and the number of patients admitted to the hospital continues to decline. Gatherings of 50 people or fewer are allowed, restaurants and bars reopen, travel resumes, child care and schools reopen under guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Face coverings and social distancing are the norm. Testing is widely available, and tracing is commonplace.
We understand that families and employees have questions and concerns. Here you will find Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), public health resources and communications that we have shared with the community. Please check this page frequently for updates. Click here for our Back to the Heart Guide, including FAQs (updated August 21).
Note: These procedures are subject to change and adaptation as required.
What Will Return to Campus Look Like?
Maintaining Social Distance
Disinfecting School Facilities
Daily Temperature Checks
Mandatory Face Coverings
Frequent Hand Washing
Complete Daily Health Questionnaire
- Back to the Heart: Opening of School Task Force
- Letter from Dan Bayston, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees
- COVID-19 Guidelines (NEW)
- Frequently Asked Questions
Our Opening of School Task Force continues to collaborate with national, regional and local organizations, including educational leaders, medical professionals, health departments, and government agencies to develop processes and plans. Task Force members have been working to conduct research, analyze information, and present options that have enabled us to make key decisions and preparations for a safe return to campus. The Leadership Team and Task Force are closely monitoring all of the appropriate sources of information, and, as requested by Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot, are committed to following all of the health and safety guidelines to the greatest extent possible. Our priority remains the welfare of each and every member of the Sacred Heart community.
Reopening Task Force
Dr. Rebecca Burns, Current Parent and Physician at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital
Dan Gargano, Head of Middle School
Brian McGuinness, Chief Financial Officer
Marjie Murphy, Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Courtney Sensenbrenner, RN, School Nurse
David Poll, EMT, School Medical Assistant
John Ptak, Director of Facilities
Jacque Simon, RN and Preschool Administrative Assistant
Jeff Smith, Director of Technology
Anne Marie Tirpak, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement
Marchus White, EMT and School nurse
Nat Wilburn, Head of Schools
Dear Sacred Heart Community,
The unprecedented events of the past five months have impacted Sacred Heart Schools in a dramatic and meaningful way, more so than at any time in its 143-year history. As many of you are aware, I have been in constant communication with Nat Wilburn to ensure the safety of our community, the quality of the Schools’ academic program, and the maintenance of the school’s financial health. Because we plan to return to on-campus learning on September 1, Nat is keeping the Board’s Executive Committee and me apprised of the many evolving guidelines and regulations from state and local governments, the Board of Education, and health and safety associations; he also attends regular meetings with the Heads of Schools from local independent institutions and the Sacred Heart Network and keeps us aware of their thoughts. The following Back to the Heart plans are the result of deliberations and decisions of the school’s Leadership Team and Opening of School Task Force. I am very grateful to all of them for their work and assure you that the Executive Committee is supportive of these evolving plans. We all understand that this is a dynamic process and preparations will continue to be guided by the status of the virus and city, state and educational leadership.
The Opening of School Task Force members have partnered with experts in various fields to establish new health and safety practices to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. The Academic Team has reimagined how in-person teaching and learning can flourish and how remote learning can be more robust, should that be necessary. Our preschool and SK-8 campuses will look different, and we will need the full cooperation and support of all community members in implementing these procedures to help us maintain a healthy environment. Please know that the Leadership Team is basing every decision on what is best for students while prioritizing the health and safety of all community members. In the following Back to the Heart document, we have outlined many details of our current plans to return to campus for in-person teaching and learning while the City of Chicago is in Phase IV. This guide is intended to help you better understand how we are preparing to return to Sheridan Road, as well as community expectations for being on campus, new health procedures, and more. Nat and his staff will be sending out detailed information and conducting virtual information forums over the coming weeks to address questions and concerns from the Sacred Heart community. In the meantime, please refer to the Plans for Reopening in 2020-21 at our
Back to the Heart website, which includes Frequently Asked Questions.
No matter the evolution of COVID-19 in the city, state, country or world, be assured that Sacred Heart Schools will continue to provide an exceptional Catholic, independent education through vibrant programs and rigorous academics—all supported by our dedicated and talented faculty and staff. Thank you for your continued partnership and support during these challenging times.
Dan Bayston (H'18, H'20)
Chairperson of the Board of Trustees
Sacred Heart will be following the the Illinois Department of Public Health and Chicago Department of Public Health guidelines as best we can regarding COVID-19-like symptoms, confirmed and probable cases, testing, contact tracing, quarantine, isolation, and return to school.
- Illinois State Board of Education Guidance
- Illinois Department of Public Heath FAQs (UPDATED)
- Illinois Department of Public Health Home Quarantine Guidelines
- Chicago Department of Public Health COVID Management Guidelines (UPDATED)
- When a student presents with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, (e.g., cough, fever, shortness of breath, vomiting, diarrhea, headache), they will be brought to the school's separation room and evaluated by the school nurse.
- If a student is sent home sick with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, all siblings/household members will be sent home as well. If one of the household members is being evaluated for COVID-19, the rest of the household must be quarantined until an alternative diagnosis is made or a negative result received. If the sick student becomes a confirmed case (i.e., tests positive for COVID-19) or a probable case (i.e., has COVID-like symptoms and is epidemiologically linked to known case), the local health department (LHD) conducting contact tracing will place household contacts, including siblings, in quarantine for 14 calendar days. The health department also will provide guidance on how to safely quarantine and isolate within the household.
- Prompt evaluation and testing of the child/staff is imperative for mitigation and control efforts should the child/staff be infected with SARS-CoV-2.
- All students and staff sent home with COVID-like symptoms should be diagnostically tested. Students and staff should remain home from school until they receive the test results.
- Parents/staff should contact the school immediately when their child/staff tests positive, at which time the school will contact the CDPH.
- When a positive case is identified, contact tracing will be performed by the CDPH in coordination with the school to identify all students/staff that had close contact (within 6 feet) for 15 minutes or more. If the case was symptomatic during this time, the time frame may be less. The school will identify mechanisms to quickly identify all movement of the case for the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, and coordinate with the CDPH.
- During Phase 4 of the COVID-19 response, all children and staff within the positive individual’s classroom will be considered close contacts.
- Communication to parents will be prompt and informative, explaining steps the school and CDPH are jointly taking, including identification and notification of close contacts who will be quarantined for 14 days from date of last exposure.
- Areas used by the student/staff (e.g., classroom, restrooms, separation room in the School Health Office) will be closed off for as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets.
- Students and staff who are confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 must complete 10 calendar days of isolation from the date of first symptom onset, be fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications, and other symptoms must have improved before returning to school.
- Students and staff returning to school after experiencing COVID-like symptoms but being diagnosed with a non-COVID illness must meet the criteria for returning to school for the illness with which they have been diagnosed. At a minimum, the individual must be fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and have had no diarrhea or vomiting in the previous 24 hours. Other diseases have specific criteria for when a student or staff member can return to school. Follow school health policies and communicable disease guidance for those illnesses. A doctor’s note documenting the alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test result should accompany a student or staff member returning to school with an alternative diagnosis after experiencing COVID-like symptoms. Schools and districts should assist families in locating free or reduced-cost medical clinics for assistance where needed.
- Students and staff with COVID-like symptoms who do not get tested for COVID-19 and who do not provide a healthcare provider’s note documenting an alternative diagnosis, must complete 10 calendar days of isolation from the date of first symptom onset, be fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications, and other symptoms must have improved before returning to school.
- Medical evaluation and COVID-19 diagnostic testing is strongly recommended for all persons with COVID-like symptoms.
- An outbreak is defined as two or more cases that are epidemiologically linked by time (within 14 days) and space and control measures to contain further spread of the outbreak will be determined in coordination with the CDPH.
August 28, 2020 - Back to the Heart: Information and Update
August 21, 2020 - Back to the Heart: Information and Update
August 14, 2020 - Back to the Heart: Information and Update
August 7, 2020 - Back to the Heart: Information and Update
July 31, 2020 - Back to the Heart: Information and Update
July 14, 2020 – Back to the Heart: Information Regarding Returning to Campus
July 6, 2020 – Back to the Heart: Coronavirus Response - Plans for Reopening 2020-21
June 22, 2020 – Preparations for Fall 2020
- Will Sacred Heart be altering their school calendar for the 2020-21 school year?
- Will Sacred Heart be on-campus this fall for the new academic year?
- Will Sacred Heart continue with the regular daily school schedule?
- What is the schedule for the first week of Preschool?
- Will Senior Kindergarten have half-days the first week, as has been the practice in past years?
- What will Meet the Teacher Day look like for Preschool and Senior Kindergarten students?
Important Dates for 2020-21 Academic Year
Our current plans are to abide by the published school calendar found on the parent portal. Meet The Teacher Day is scheduled for August 31 with classes beginning on September 1. Sacred Heart is in communication with other local independent schools and secondary schools and will seek to align calendars when possible.
We are planning to be on campus this fall in a way that adheres to all city and state health and safety protocols including distancing and PPE guidelines. While these plans are continuously evolving, our current plan is to have all students on campus every day. We will simultaneously be ready to implement a blended model of teaching and learning with some students on the SK-8 campus while others learn at home if it becomes necessary. As of August 7, our Middle School will begin the academic year with a hybrid model.
Meet the Teacher Day will be held on August 31. This event will be in-person, outside, and by appointment only. Each appointment will last 15 minutes. Families will receive an email from the School Office on August 24 to begin scheduling their appointments. Meet the Teacher Day is for teachers, parents, and grade-level students only. All participants will be required to wear face coverings and observe social distancing.
Meet the Teacher Day will be held on the Preschool Campus for pre-kindergarten and junior kindergarten students and on the SK-8 Campus for senior kindergarten students.
- Will my child have to wear a mask?
- If a student can not wear a mask for medical reasons, can that student attend in-person classes?
- What are the requirements for face coverings?
- What is the school doing to ensure the health and safety of students and staff?
- How is the school preparing the campus for the safe return of students, faculty, and staff?
- Will my child have to have a daily temperature check?
- How has Sacred Heart addressed the need for improved ventilation given COVID-19?
- What happens if someone on campus shows signs of COVID-19?
- What happens if a Sacred Heart community member tests positive for COVID-19?
- Are students expected to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to school?
- Will parents and the general public be allowed on campus?
- Will students be allowed on/off campus throughout the day?
- How will Sacred Heart accommodate larger gatherings and social events when school resumes?
- What happens if Chicago experiences a second wave of the virus?
- Are students and families allowed to travel to different states or internationally?
- What is Sacred Heart’s expectation about students socializing off-campus and participating in traveling sports teams?
Yes. Everyone on campus will be required to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing. We strongly encourage families to ensure their child(ren) have at least five freshly-cleaned reusable masks--at least one for each school day. It is advisable for each student to have an extra mask at school/in their backpacks as they will become soiled.
Unfortunately, for the health and safety of all students, we must adhere to CDC guidelines concerning face coverings. Students who are medically unable to wear face coverings should participate in remote learning. Click here for the most updated CDC guidelines for face coverings.
The face covering must:
• Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
• Completely cover the nose and mouth
• Be secured with ties or ear loops
• Include multiple layers of fabric
• One layer must be a tightly woven cotton (cannot see through fabric and cannot blow out a candle
while wearing mask)
• Allow for breathing without restriction
• Be able to be laundered and machine-dried without damage or change to shape
Mask styles which are not allowed at Sacred Heart are:
• Masks with exhalation valves
• Athletic face coverings/neck warmers
More than one face covering:
• Is required for all students
• A minimum of five for Preschool students and three for SK-8 students
• Must be stored and maintained in the student’s backpack in a labelled bag
• Saturated and soiled face coverings will be changed and sent home daily
Cloth face coverings may be reused after proper laundering
Practice at home:
Prepare your child for daily face covering use
Practice donning and doffing
Labelling your face coverings is required on the outside of each face covering
We have strict cleaning, disinfection, hygiene, and safety protocols in place now, and as faculty and staff return to campus in August these will be expanded. When we begin the new academic year with students on campus, our campus-wide cleaning and disinfection protocols will be in place. There will be continuous cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day. Additionally, guidelines will be enforced knowing who is in the building and who is encountering whom should we need to implement contact tracing for known diagnoses of COVID-19.
Additionally, in order to keep our community as healthy as possible, we will be asking students, faculty, and staff to limit their movements and reduce the number of people with whom they come into contact during the school day. Directional indicators will be placed throughout the school to promote safe distancing.
- Developing health and safety signage and training for the return to campus
- Assigning maximum people limits to each space on campus and setting new traffic flow patterns for hallways
- Implementing new personal hygiene practices on campus and providing training for all students, faculty, and staff (examples include requiring handwashing and desk/surface cleaning sessions throughout the school day, limiting the number of people in bathrooms, and increasing the cleaning frequency for high-traffic surfaces such as doorknobs, cubbies, lockers, etc.)
- Modifying how and where students will eat lunch (most likely, students will eat in their classrooms or outdoors for older students, weather permitting)
- Minimizing the number of classroom transitions for students
- Installing physical structures such as acrylic shields in main entrances and implementing stricter visitor restrictions
- Ordering personal protective equipment
- Engaging in professional development for faculty and staff to prepare for the new school year and for Sacred Heart at Home (if we need to implement it in the months ahead)
Sacred Heart has upgraded the quality of filters utilized in all of its heating and air conditioning systems. HVAC economizers have been modified to allow an increase in fresh air being taken into the building, which will slow the transmission of COVID-19. We will also follow CDC and state health department recommendations to open windows when safe and feasible to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and specifically to slow the transmission of COVID-19.
We are designating a place on campus for a person to go immediately if they show symptoms of COVID-19. After contacting parents, appropriate medical professionals and/or the employee’s physician, we will assist in arranging for the person to be transported to the appropriate place as advised. We will isolate all who were in close contact with the symptomatic person and communicate with public health authorities and a student’s parents or emergency contacts. The public health authority will assist in determining the next steps, and if it is a confirmed case of COVID-19, contact tracing will commence.
The response varies if a person is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. Guidance from the public health authority will help us to determine our protocols, and it will depend on the circumstances. Among the questions to be asked include:
- When was the person last on campus?
- Who else is in the person’s class? On the person’s working team? Where is the person located on campus? Where did they go on campus? Would the entire campus have been exposed?
- Were all of the Safety Plan hygiene protocols followed? Was the person using PPE?
- Which areas of the campus need to be thoroughly cleaned first?
The public health authority will help to determine if some or part of the campus will need to be isolated, and whether these measures will be for deep cleaning purposes only, or as a way to prevent spreading of the virus. Public Health officials will also assist in determining if or for whom a 14-day quarantine period is required.
Due to health and safety protocols we will have specific ways to enter the buildings on campus, and movement through and in and out of our buildings will be minimized. When students arrive in the morning they will go to their designated classroom. We ask that parents not schedule off-campus appointments for students during the school day requiring them to leave and return to campus. Staggered arrival and dismissal times may be planned.
Currently guidelines for larger gatherings allow the school to conduct gatherings of no more than 50 individuals while maintaining social distancing and appropriate PPE. We will follow the guidelines of local and state authorities. In order to mitigate risk of exposure to COVID-19, assemblies, chapels and other events are being reinvisioned. It is anticipated that the Parents of the Heart meetings and other similar meetings will be held via Zoom until deemed safe to gather in person.
If Illinois/Chicago experiences another wave of COVID-19 and a State of Emergency is declared, we will comply and move to distance learning immediately. We are prepared for this. All students will be provided the necessary technology to learn remotely, our learning plans will all move online, and our teachers will be equipped with proper technology and resources to deliver a Sacred Heart education remotely.
COVID-19 has demonstrated that our individual choices affect others. Please remember that travel to a "hot spot" as defined by the City of Chicago requires a 14 day quarantine before returning to campus. However, in order to best protect our community for a safe return to campus, it will be safest that families self-isolate for two weeks before school starts from August 18-September 1, as well as over the extended Labor Day holiday weekend.
We share your hope to have students on campus and participating in in-person learning. We can only maintain in-person learning by keeping our community from having an outbreak of the virus, which would force us to return to remote learning. Please remember that travel to a “hot spot” as defined by the City of Chicago requires a 14 day quarantine before returning to campus. We require that all families follow the CDC Guidelines (link) and expect families to maintain the integrity of their child’s cohort both on- and off-campus. In returning to campus, you acknowledge that you will abide by all the school’s published policies and procedures related to health and safety.
- Will classrooms look different?
- Will there be distance learning, Sacred Heart at Home, in 2020-21?
- What can we expect from Sacred Heart as we look toward the possibility of remote learning?
- What will the Arts and Music programs look like?
- How will Honors Math Classes work with mixed students in cohorts?
- Will the school organize students into Cohorts or Pods?
- How will the A and B cohorts be created?
- Will preschool students be separated into A and B cohorts?
- What are the daily schedules of the A and B Cohorts?
- Will siblings in the same grade (e.g. twins, triplets) be placed in the same section?
- Understanding that the administration is creating cohorts, may I request a certain section so I can coordinate carpools or child care?
- Will students be allowed outside for classes, PE and recess?
- Can students use lunch boxes with reusable containers?
- When will I get my child's class list?
- Will Middle School students need to purchase any additional supplies given recommendations around sharing materials?
- May I elect to have my child participate in solely remote learning until there is a vaccine?
- If a family chooses remote access, can they go back to in-person learning at any time?
- Will the remote learners be receiving an iPad and, if so, will we be advised when to pick that up please?
- Will there be any time for students choosing remote access to interact remotely with each other?
We are preparing for on-campus classes and doing so with the practical and prudent understanding that consequences of this ongoing pandemic could require teachers and students to teach and learn from home at some point. Safety is our number one priority, and to achieve this, distance learning may be required. Thanks to valuable parent feedback from the 2019-20 year, we will be improving the distance education experience for use during the upcoming year. Faculty are participating in several required professional development opportunities during the summer, and we are acquiring additional technology equipment. All SK-8 students will be provided individual devices.
Sacred Heart Schools is committed to providing meaningful and manageable blended learning experiences that nurture strong, positive connections between students and teachers and emphasize the most essential learning targets in each grade level or subject area, allowing all students to be successful. We are committed to supporting the continued academic and personal growth of SHS students, regardless of the venue in which learning takes place.
- Our curriculum goals remain the same, whether or not we are in-person or remote.
- We are designing our learning activities and instruction intentionally so teachers and students can pivot as seamlessly as possible between in-person and remote learning, synchronous and asynchronous instruction.
- Synchronous or “live” learning time will serve as the anchor and social context for students’ learning, and will be reserved for teaching and learning components that are best served with “face to face” instruction: interactions between teachers and students, discussion, assessment, answering questions, small group work, virtual check-ins, etc.
- Asynchronous (recorded/independent) components will supplement and enhance face-to-face learning by giving students opportunities for independent work, repeated practice, and personal reflection.
- Each division will have a consistent, predictable daily schedule that alternates synchronous and asynchronous learning, that focuses on core subjects, and includes special area classes and social-emotional learning and connections. We will follow recommendations from the Illinois State Board of Education to include 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of synchronous time daily for instruction and connection, as well as time for independent learning that is commensurate with the age of the student.
- We have acquired new equipment for the classrooms, including cameras and microphones, to enhance the remote teaching experience. In addition, we have expanded our 1:1 device program so all K-8 students will have an iPad (SK-3) or Chromebook (4-8) to use at home.
More details will be available from your Division Head.
Art and music are essential to our students’ education, and part of our whole-child approach. We will continue to ensure the artistic development of our students. Studio and graphic arts are possible, but at this time we cannot confirm what our music and band programs will include because health authorities have recommended the suspension of choral singing and the use of wind instruments. We are committed to continuing to offer our full arts curriculum in some capacity.
The current daily timetable for staggered arrival and dismissal* (as of July 31)
Section/Cohort A group
8 am - drop-off begins on campus
8:15 am - classes start
2:15 pm - leave class for bus
2:30 pm - bus leaves campus
Section/Cohort B group
9 am - drop off begins on campus
9:15 am - classes start
3:15 pm - leave class for bus
3:30 pm - bus leaves campus
*Our plan is to implement before- and after-school care after the first weeks of school. Students should not arrive campus prior to their designated section/cohort time.
Yes. Sacred Heart Schools will provide a remote access learning option while we simultaneously open campus for our students to participate in in-person learning. As we continue to receive information about COVID-19 and watch as the number of infections in Chicago fluctuate, we understand that some parents are unsure of their comfort level regarding whether or not they want their child(ren) learning in person on-campus. If you would be more comfortable with your child(ren) engaging remote access to on-campus learning (regardless of medical need), please send the names and grade-levels to email@example.com by August 24 at 5 pm. If you plan to send your children to on-campus learning, you do not need to send an email. Click here for more details.
To guide our staffing and planning, and minimize disruption for on-campus learners, we are asking families who choose the remote access option to commit to one academic quarter at a time. The first quarter would run from the beginning of the school year through the end of October. We will re-evaluate the program at that time. Please refer to our Remote Learning Access Overview for more information.
- Will Sacred Heart continue bus service?
- Will Sacred Heart offer Before and After School care?
- Will there be athletics in 2020-21?
- Will the Middle School still make their overnight trips?
Our current plans include having bus service. Until we know restrictions from the city, we are unable to provide many details. Students will be expected to wear masks on the bus and will be required to have a temperature check prior to boarding. It is possible that we will be implementing a staggered arrival and dismissal schedule. We are working with our bus provider on logistics and will continue to provide updated information.
Our athletic directors are working to arrange appropriate sport activities abiding by all health and safety regulations. Recognizing that physical activity is a key element of student well-being, we will have safe and engaging activities in our Physical Education classes to keep our students physically active and socially connected. Keeping our students healthy and fit is our priority. NOTE: In light of recent guidelines set by the IHSA, the IESA has amended their recommendations. As of August 7, Sacred Heart is planning to offer golf and cross country. Registration
information will be coming soon. Flag football and volleyball seasons have been cancelled.
Due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions, Space Academy has canceled our previously postponed trip for rising 8th graders. We are still planning to send our rising 7th grade students to Space Academy in the spring as well as our rising 8th grade students to Washington D.C. in the spring, pending COVID-19 travel restrictions. Our 8th Grade Retreat, scheduled for early 2021, has been postponed pending COVID-19 travel restrictions. Our 6th grade Ropes Trip that was scheduled for the fall has also been postponed indefinitely. Should we be able to reschedule for a later date, we will communicate that to our families.
Sacred Heart has a responsibility to welcome families who are well-qualified for our program and are interested in being part of our Sacred Heart community. If a student withdraws from Sacred Heart and the space in that class is in high demand, then Sacred Heart will welcome a new family to enroll. If a student withdraws and later asks to re-enroll, we would certainly welcome the student if we have the space to do so.
Absolutely. Our Admissions Office has been and will remain open and ready to help with applications or to answer questions. We have virtual capabilities for every step of the process. Please contact our Admissions Director, Judy Corrin.
Public Health Resources
- Illinois State Board of Education Reopening Phase IV
- World Health Organization
- US Center for Disease Control and Prevention- English
- US Center for Disease Control and Prevention- Spanish
- Illinois Department of Public Health
- Chicago Department of Public Health
- Chicago Department of Public Health – Guidance on Case Management
- Illinois Department of Public Health – Interim Exclusion Guidance
- Talking to Children About COVID-19
- Coronavirus Video for Children
- Talking to Kids About Coronavirus
- How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus
- PK-12 Grade-Level Support