COVID Safety

May 26, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

As we reach the end of the academic year, our COVID management practices continue to evolve as community health data changes and with guidance from our health partners, including the Kane County Health Department. This week, we have seen a heightened number of cases. As such, we will delay our plan to move to mask-optional until our summer programs begin. This means that we will maintain the masking requirement until June 13, including at graduation.

We encourage our community to stay diligent in protecting ourselves and others in the following ways:

  • Wear a properly fitting mask.
  • Continue to practice physical distancing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially when you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Monitor your health. Be alert for symptoms such as sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath and other signs the CDC has identified.
  • Get tested if you are sick.

The Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday for the last time. I want to offer my deepest respect and appreciation for members of this group who have offered such a significant contribution to IMSA. Their regular, most often weekly, feedback was key to maintaining an in-person learning environment for our students this academic year.

We recognize and acknowledge the sacrifices our community continues to make to prevent the spread of COVID-19 up until our last days on campus. Thank you for your grace, patience, empathy, and flexibility.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

May 17, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

For the week ending May 13, 1,546 COVID tests were performed. 1540 tests were negative and six were positive. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.  As of Monday, we were well below the threshold for the physical distancing mitigation requirement, so we have lifted/removed physical distancing measures again. This means:

  • Classrooms can work collaboratively in groups without physical distancing.
  • Students can move about in their respective wings, as well as the same sex wings within their halls.
Monitoring Committee Report

The Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday. A recommendation was made and approved by Cabinet to make the move to mask-optional for the summer with weekly testing for student-facing colleagues and universal health precautions in place beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 3. This model has been deemed safe by federal, state, and local public health authorities for areas where community transmission of COVID-19 is low, like at IMSA.

While lifting of the mask requirement represents a hopeful end to managing COVID as a crisis, it is incumbent upon us to understand that there are members of our community who will make a personal choice to continue to mask. IMSA embodies respecting others and a shared commitment to uplifting and celebrating differences. Please also understand that the move to mask-optional does not mean all mitigation measures have been lifted, or that specific circumstances will not arise that require masks.

IMSA has remained responsive to change throughout the pandemic and we must continue to remain nimble and pivot if the health data changes. Our colleagues and families can be confident that we will act quickly and implement safety procedures as needed throughout the summer.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

May 10, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

For the week ending May 6, 1569 COVID tests were performed. 1558 tests were negative and 11 were positive. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. Our current outbreak status requires us to do SHIELD testing twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. in B101.

Students, keep a lookout for a new prize each test day!

A separate Monitoring Committee report will be posted on the COVID webpage Wednesday afternoon following the Cabinet meeting.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

May 4, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I would like to share important information about a change in our mitigation efforts and an update from the Monitoring Committee and Cabinet.

A Return to Physical Distancing

On Monday, March 28, 2022, we removed physical distancing and capacity limits in the Main Academic Building and the Residence Halls, so long as we did not exceed a threshold of 10 or more students who were home to quarantine in a given time. As of late Wednesday, May 4, 2022, there were 11 students home to quarantine which exceeds our threshold.  As a result, we will return to physical distancing measures effective immediately until those numbers fall below the threshold. This adjustment means:

  • Classrooms will not be able to work collaboratively in groups without physical distancing until we fall below the threshold.
  •  Students will not be able to move about in their respective wings, as well as the same sex wings within their halls, until we fall below the threshold.

Please also be reminded that in the Main Academic Building, eating is only permitted in the cafeteria when masks are off and dividers are in place.

Monitoring Committee

The Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday.  With an increase in cases and Prom approaching on May 13, please be informed of the following guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our community:

  • IMSA students attending Prom must participate in SHIELD testing twice next week and both tests must return a negative result.
  • Guests of IMSA students must provide proof of a negative test within 24 hours of boarding the bus. According to IDPH, at-home testing kids are an acceptable form of evidence. Specific information on how guests can provide a negative test will be shared with participants by the Student Affairs team.
  • IMSA’s mask requirement is still in effect on campus and while students are under the supervision of IMSA, so please be reminded that Prom participants, chaperones and guests are expected to wear masks in the bus and on the dance floor.  Masks are not required outside for pictures, or for the swim activity.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

May 3, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

For the week ending April 29, 821 COVID tests were performed. 815 tests were negative and six were positive. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. Our current outbreak status requires us to do SHIELD testing twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. in B101.

In an effort to provide positive reinforcement for our students, we are planning to enter students who test before 1:00 p.m. on SHIELD testing days into drawings for DoorDash, Amazon, and Target gift cards. At the same time, with a consistent increase in COVID cases, we want to emphasize the importance of testing by modifying corrective actions for students who fail to test twice weekly:

  • First offense: Students and parents/guardians are notified of the missed test via email.
  • Second offense: Students and parents/guardians are notified of a scheduled disciplinary hearing date and time. If found responsible, a Tier II-A violation will be on the student’s disciplinary record and appropriate sanctions will be imposed, up to and including a warning and/or social probation.
  • Third offense: Students and parents/guardians are notified of a scheduled disciplinary hearing date and time. If found responsible, a Tier II-B violation will be on the student’s disciplinary record and appropriate sanctions will be imposed, including up to a 3-day out-of-school suspension and other sanctions, as outlined above

A report of the Monitoring Committee will be posted after the Cabinet meeting on May 4.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

April 29, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am writing with an important update on COVID transmission. We have experienced six positive cases this week. Several of these cases are clustered and have been identified as epidemiologically-linked, so the Kane County Health Department has placed IMSA in outbreak status from now through May 26, 2022.

Twice Weekly Testing – Outbreak Status

The outbreak status requires all students and colleagues to participate in SHIELD testing twice a week on the following days/times:

  • Tuesdays 11:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. in B101
  • Thursdays 11:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. in B101

Our expectation is that all students and colleagues test with our SHIELD partner when they are on campus. If a student or colleague is not present on campus during a testing day, reporting to the Health Office the next day is the required protocol. Health Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m – 4:00 p.m.

Mask-Optional for Field Trips – Postponed

We planned to take a small step toward mask-optional by offering this first for off-campus field trips only, beginning May 2. However, we have exceeded the threshold of three or more positive cases in a week, so this step will be postponed until May 9, if cases remain below the threshold.

I realize this information is agonizing to read as the pandemic lingers on. Know that I share your feelings. However, we must continue to follow the guidance of our public health partners and re-dedicate ourselves to measures that ensure the health and safety of our community. The next meeting of the Monitoring Committee is May 3, after which I will share further updates.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

April 29, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I’m pleased to share with you community transmission from last week and an update from the Monitoring Committee with information on further changes to our mitigation measures.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending April 15, 800 COVID tests were performed. 798 tests were negative and two were positive. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Reminder – Failure to COVID Test

This week, we saw a larger than usual number of students who did not participate in weekly SHIELD testing. The Health Office followed up with students and provided a rapid test. To ensure the health of our community, I’d like to remind students and parents of the progressive discipline measures in place since November 11, 2021 should students fail to complete a weekly SHIELD test:

  • First Offense: Email to student and parent in addition to a personal conversation.
  • Second Offense: 6:30 p.m. hard check for a period of one week.
  • Third Offense: Loss of extra-curricular privileges for a period of one week.

SHIELD testing is every Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. in Room B101.

Monitoring Committee Report

The Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday. The group is generally pleased with the success of slowly reducing mitigations; however, we have an eye on an uptick in cases statewide and nationally due to the omicron BA.2 subvariant. As a result, a recommendation was made to Cabinet that our community take a small step toward mask-optional by offering this first for off-campus field trips only beginning May 2.

With field trip activities, like PROM, graduation and senior dinner increasing in May, we hope to begin moving toward a sense of normalcy as we approach the end of the academic year. Field trips are broadly defined as any off-campus activity. The health metrics associated with mask-optional for field trips includes a threshold of three or more cases in a week. Should we have three or more positive cases in a week, we would return to the mask requirement for the week, including off-campus trips. Masks will still be required on buses and vans as well as the residence halls and main academic building.

Masks are not required outside, so as the weather improves, we encourage students and colleagues to enjoy the outdoors whether it is for social gatherings, meetings, or activities. The success of a full academic year of in-person learning and living is due to your vigilance, compliance and tremendous support of our health and safety measures during the course of this pandemic. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

The next Monitoring Committee update will be on May 3 as part of a new weekly family update including other IMSA news and activities.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

April 21, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I’m pleased to share with you community transmission from last week and an update from the Monitoring Committee with information on further changes to our mitigation measures.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending April 15, 800 COVID tests were performed. 798 tests were negative and two were positive. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Reminder – Failure to COVID Test

This week, we saw a larger than usual number of students who did not participate in weekly SHIELD testing. The Health Office followed up with students and provided a rapid test. To ensure the health of our community, I’d like to remind students and parents of the progressive discipline measures in place since November 11, 2021 should students fail to complete a weekly SHIELD test:

  • First Offense: Email to student and parent in addition to a personal conversation.
  • Second Offense: 6:30 p.m. hard check for a period of one week.
  • Third Offense: Loss of extra-curricular privileges for a period of one week.

SHIELD testing is every Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. in Room B101.

Monitoring Committee Report

The Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday. The group is generally pleased with the success of slowly reducing mitigations; however, we have an eye on an uptick in cases statewide and nationally due to the omicron BA.2 subvariant. As a result, a recommendation was made to Cabinet that our community take a small step toward mask-optional by offering this first for off-campus field trips only beginning May 2.

With field trip activities, like PROM, graduation and senior dinner increasing in May, we hope to begin moving toward a sense of normalcy as we approach the end of the academic year. Field trips are broadly defined as any off-campus activity. The health metrics associated with mask-optional for field trips includes a threshold of three or more cases in a week. Should we have three or more positive cases in a week, we would return to the mask requirement for the week, including off-campus trips. Masks will still be required on buses and vans as well as the residence halls and main academic building.

Masks are not required outside, so as the weather improves, we encourage students and colleagues to enjoy the outdoors whether it is for social gatherings, meetings, or activities. The success of a full academic year of in-person learning and living is due to your vigilance, compliance and tremendous support of our health and safety measures during the course of this pandemic. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

The next Monitoring Committee update will be on May 3 as part of a new weekly family update including other IMSA news and activities.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

April 14, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am pleased to provide a report to the community regarding weekly COVID transmission rates and a short update from the Monitoring Committee.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending April 8, 721 COVID tests were performed. 719 tests were negative and two were positive. An additional four students were identified as close contacts that were excluded from in-person learning per our quarantine guidelines. The removal of physical distancing mitigations remains in place and will continue so long as no more than nine students are in quarantine at a given time Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Monitoring Committee Report

The Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday. They reviewed an update from IDPH regarding a recommendation that schools return the operations of drinking fountains citing the importance of hydration for students and adults. As such, IMSA will follow this recommendation and restore drinking fountains to their working order.

I hope you enjoy the extended break and can enjoy some fresh, spring air.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

April 7, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I’m pleased to share with you community transmission from last week and an update from the Monitoring Committee with information on changes to the quarantine period for students who test positive for COVID-19.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending April 1, 728 COVID tests were performed. 725 tests were negative and three were positive. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Monitoring Committee Report

The Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday. They reviewed an update on CDC quarantine guidance regarding isolation for students who test positive for COVID-19. With approval from the Kane County Health Department and Cabinet, the following protocol with be in effect immediately for students who test positive:

  • IMSA students who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home for 5-days. If no symptoms are present on day 5, students have the option to commute to IMSA for the following 5 days with 100% masking and no access to residence hall(s). Should the student develop symptoms, the initial 5-day isolation period would restart as day 0. To ensure equity with this new practice, limited housing assistance may be made available for the commuting option to students whose families live 50 miles or more from IMSA. This option may also be available to students who are identified as close contacts and not up to date on their vaccines, including boosters, per our current close contact quarantine practice. For more information on IMSA’s quarantine protocols, visit Quarantine Guidelines.

As a reminder, the trial removal of physical distancing mitigations is in place and will continue if the community remains healthy. Should 10 or more students be at home to quarantine at a given time, we will return to physical distancing measures until those numbers fall below the threshold.

Thank you for your continued support of our response to COVID-19.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

March 16, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I’m pleased to share with you community transmission from last week and an update from the Monitoring Committee with information on further changes to our mitigation measures.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending March 11, 682 COVID tests were performed. 681 tests were negative and one was positive. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

COVID Testing Schedule

March 28, 2022: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. via SHIELD. Families will not need to get a COVID test to return to campus unless their return is after 5:00 p.m. on Monday. Students who have not arrived on campus by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 28 must bring proof of a negative COVID test dated within 48 hours of their return and present it to the Health Office before being permitted to attend class.

Beginning April 5, testing events will continue on Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Reminder – Visitor Access

As a follow up to permitting visitors to the Main Academic Building, please ensure that all visitors are directed to enter through the Main Entrance (Door 1). This includes parents, alumni, guests with a business purpose and delivery/service personnel. All entry doors have a sign alerting/directing visitors to the Main Entrance so that security can check them in. We ask that students and colleagues refrain from opening. The security check-in process is vital for keeping our community safe.

Monitoring Committee Report

After consultation with the Kane County Health Department, the Illinois Department of Public Health and colleagues, the Monitoring Committee met Tuesday and made a recommendation which was approved by Cabinet to take a first step in reducing some more of our mitigation layers. Beginning Monday, March 28, 2022, we will remove physical distancing and capacity limits in the Main Academic Building and the Residence Halls, including student movement restrictions in the Residence Halls. The following exceptions apply:

  • Tables of four will still be required in the cafeteria.
  • No more than four students will be permitted an individual Residence Hall Room at one time.

This adjustment means that classrooms will be able to work collaboratively in groups and students will be able to move about in their respective wings, as well as the same sex wings within their halls, provided they have been approved by the RC in the office to do so, and have been fobbed in by them accordingly. COVID capacity limits within any common areas within the Residence Halls have been lifted as well. This is a trial effort and will continue if the community remains healthy. Should 10 or more students be at home to quarantine at a given time, we will return to physical distancing measures until those numbers fall below the threshold.

As a reminder, students who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 will be required to quarantine if they are unvaccinated or not up to date on COVID-19 vaccines. Up to date means all recommended COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. Student vaccine information can be sent to nurse@imsa.edu. Colleague vaccine information may be sent to vaccine@imsa.edu. We encourage our community to consider getting vaccinated or boosted during the Spring Break week.

If we are successful with this next step, we will explore the continued requirement of masks in April. The Monitoring Committee will meet again on April 5, 2022 to review the most updated data and reflect on the impact of being home for a week.

Wishing you all a wonderful and warm Spring Break!

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

March 10, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I’m pleased to share with you community transmission from last week, including zero positive cases, and an update from the Monitoring Committee with information on further changes to our mitigation measures.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending March 4, 1,348 COVID tests were performed. 1,348 tests were negative and 0 were positive! Take a look at our COVID trophy with the latest accomplishment.

Updated COVID Testing Schedule

This week marks a return to once a week testing because we are no longer in outbreak status. Changes to upcoming testing includes:

  • March 28, 2022: We will adjust testing post spring-break to accommodate the return of students and colleagues Monday from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. via SHIELD. A regular academic schedule will be in place (this is a change from the previous schedule which was shortened to accommodate for a testing event in the morning). In April, we will resume COVID testing on Tuesdays at the same time, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • April 19, 2022: After the Easter/Passover break, we will test students and colleagues upon return Tuesday, April 19 from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. via SHIELD. A regular academic schedule will be in place.
Monitoring Committee Report

The Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday. IMSA administration is in conversation with the Kane County Health Department, IDPH and colleagues about how to gradually reduce mitigations safely in our living, learning environment. Highlights of further changes to mitigation measures that were recommended by the Monitoring Committee and approved by Cabinet impacting the community include:

  • The Fitness Center will re-open to colleagues.
  • Two students are permitted in hall study rooms with masking.
  • Open swim and water polo activities will be available and offered.
  • In situations when IMSA cannot provide transportation, parents can transport students to IMSA events, including athletics, using field trip mitigations (masking).
  • Any senior auction items that result in off campus experiences should fall into field trip procedures, including following all mitigations like mask wearing.

We will continue to work through the Monitoring Committee in the weeks ahead to peel back mitigation layers, so long as community transmission continues to decline and in partnership with our colleagues, local, state and national health officials.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

March 3, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I’d like to provide you with information on community transmission from last week and an update from the Monitoring Committee, including changes to some mitigation measures.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending February 25, 1,373 COVID tests were performed. 1,370 tests were negative and three were positive. The positivity rate was 0.2%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

Updated COVID Testing Schedule

Beginning March 7, IMSA will no longer be in outbreak status and will return to once a week testing on Tuesdays.

We will adjust testing after spring break to accommodate the return of students and colleagues to occur on Monday, March 28 from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. via SHIELD. A regular academic schedule will be in place. This will be the only test event the week of March 28.

After the Easter break, we will test students and colleagues upon return Tuesday, April 19 from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. via SHIELD. A regular academic schedule will be in place.

Monitoring Committee Report

The Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday. It was reported that the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Kane County Health Department still consider IMSA a congregate setting because of its residential environment and recommend continued indoor masking for all colleagues, students and visitors. IMSA is in regular contact with its health partners and will share updates to this guidance as soon as it becomes available.

The following changes to other mitigation measures were recommended by the Monitoring Committee and approved by Cabinet:

  • Discontinue masking requirement outdoors effective immediately.
  • Return access to all eligible doors by colleagues and students, including the main entrance effective Friday, March 4. As a reminder, students may access Doors 1, 6, 13, 18. Colleagues may access Doors 1, 6, 13, 18, and 24.
  • Return full visitor access to the Main Academic Building based on standard security practices effective immediately. As a reminder, we will continue to restrict visitors in the residence halls.
  • Increase capacity in residence hall rooms from three students to four students enabling group project work and studying effective immediately. Students should remain masked with the door open.

We will continue to work through the Monitoring Committee in the weeks ahead to peel back layers of mitigation safely, so long as community transmission continues to decline and in partnership with local, state and national health officials.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

February 23, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I’d like to provide you with information on community transmission from last week and an update on IMSA’s COVID mitigation strategies.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending February 18, 1,181 COVID tests were performed. 1,179 tests were negative and two were positive. The positivity rate was 0.1%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information.

As a reminder, we remain in outbreak status and are required to test twice weekly through at least March 3, 2022. Therefore, our second testing day for the week is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 24 from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in Room B101.

Update on COVID Mitigations

While Illinois’ masking mandate is expected to be lifted Feb. 28 for some indoor settings, the IDPH continues to recommend masking in schools, hospitals and congregate settings. IMSA is considered to be in the congregate category because of our residential environment. Therefore, we will continue to follow IDPH guidance as has been our practice since the beginning of this pandemic. All individuals on campus must remain masked indoors, regardless of vaccination status, including in classrooms and in residence halls. Exceptions are when alone in a private office or personal residence hall room.

However, with the continued decline in cases, we can now safely reduce some mitigation measures as long as the COVID rates remain low:

  • IMSA will not restrict weekend trips home for essential reasons. You do not need to complete the request-to-depart campus form;
  • IMSA will not require a negative COVID-19 test to return after an overnight stay away from campus.

Thank you for your ongoing patience and cooperation in continuing to wear masks and adjusting and adhering to other COVID-19 precautions. We will update you next week on any further relaxations to mitigations when the Monitoring Committee meets and the positive trends are confirmed in the weeks and months ahead.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

February 15, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I’d like to provide you with an update on community transmission from last week, the COVID testing schedule for the current week and advance information on a few extra layers of mitigation we’ve put in place for returning from the extended weekend on February 21 – 22.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending February 11, 1,344 COVID tests were performed. 1,339 tests were negative and five were positive. The positivity rate was 0.3%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information.

COVID Testing Schedule (SHIELD) – This Week
  • Tuesday (2/15/22): 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in B101
  • Thursday (2/17/22): 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (this is a change to our regular testing schedule due to the shortened day and extended break)
Post-Extended Break Mitigation Measures for 2/21 and 2/22

Our past practice has been to host a rapid testing event on the first day of class after an extended break. However, IDPH has reduced our supply of rapid tests, so we will be providing two opportunities for SHIELD testing, one on Monday when halls open and another on Tuesday as part of our regular testing schedule.

Bear in mind that PCR lab test results take longer (12-24 hours), but are more accurate than a rapid test. As an extra layer of precaution and to ensure the continued health and safety of our community, we’d like you to be aware of several mitigation measures that will be in place Monday, Feb. 21 – Tuesday, Feb. 22., including:

  • Monday (2/21/22): Halls open at 3:00 p.m. The Main Academic Building is open only for dinner and a special SHIELD testing event
  • Monday (2/21/22): 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Special SHIELD Testing Event in B101 for RCs and students who have returned to campus
  • Tuesday (2/22/22): SHIELD Testing 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. for students who did not test at Monday’s special testing event and colleagues                    
  • Monday and Tuesday (2/21/22 – 2/22/22): The gym and fitness center will be closed for after school and evening activities.

As a reminder, IMSA will host a Vaccine/Booster Clinic next Friday, Feb. 25 from 9:00 a.m – 1:00 p.m. Register here. We believe vaccination is the best mitigation effort to reduce the impact of COVID, and we appreciate everyone’s efforts to keep up to date with the booster following five months of vaccination.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

February 7, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

We would like to share with you information and updates about a legal challenge to state-mandated COVID-19 mitigations, as well as the weekly COVID transmission report.

Legal Challenge to State-Mandated COVID-19 Mitigations

On Friday, February 4, 2022, a temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued in Sangamon County regarding the compliance of 140 schools with Executive Orders 2021-18, 2021-24, and 2021-25. Those Executive Orders address facemasks in schools, exclusion of students, and required COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing.

Because we are not a party to the pending litigation, IMSA will continue to follow the same layered mitigation strategies indicated in the Return to Learn Plan in accordance with the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the Kane County Health Department which have allowed us to successfully navigate this academic year. This means IMSA will continue to require mask-wearing, exclusion for those impacted by COVID, and weekly surveillance testing.

Additionally, we will continue to evaluate and recommend adjustments to our mitigation measures based on public and school health conditions through our Monitoring Committee. We will keep our community informed of adjustments in our mitigations through our weekly COVID updates.

COVID Transmission Report

For the week of January 31-February 4, 2022, 828 COVID tests were performed. 819 tests were negative and nine positive. The positivity rate was 1.0%. We will return to outbreak status because there were four linked cases among the positives. As such, we will move to an increased testing schedule (Tuesdays and Thursdays) for the next 30 days.

Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information.

The Monitoring Committee Report will be forthcoming later in the week after the group meets.

Updated Testing Schedule – Tuesdays and Thursdays

Beginning this week and continuing for the next 30 days, SHIELD surveillance testing will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in B 101.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, IMSA has been committed to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our students and colleagues. As a reminder, should your child have an essential need that requires an overnight stay off campus, please submit a request on this form until February 17. We are optimistic that COVID rates will fall following the extended weekend. Thank you for your continued partnership in this endeavor.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

February 4, 2022

Dear IMSA Community,

Earlier this week, I shared some updated guidelines regarding test-to-return to campus if students require an overnight stay off campus. I’d like to offer some clarification based on questions we have received over the last few days.

  1. Who completes the request form? Our desire is to maximize the number of students who can participate in learning on campus rather than remotely. In order to reduce the risk of transmission, we prefer students to remain on campus rather than go home. If there are essential reasons a student must go home and stay overnight, please complete this form two days in advance. I recognize essential family needs can vary, and also want families to ensure they are expressing needs rather than wishes in our efforts to reduce community health risk. Families do not need to complete the form if their student is checking out and returning during the same day. Regardless of completing the form, please continue to follow safety precautions, such as wearing masks, physical distancing and avoiding indoor social situations.
  2. What is the rationale for the change in procedure? We are in a state of heightened caution until the extended weekend (President’s Day). Our COVID numbers are up and we like to catch any positive cases early, so we can send those students home and the virus does not spread on campus. Further, students who are booster-eligible without the booster are now sent home for 10 days of remote learning if they are in close contact with someone who tests positive, regardless of their symptoms. Due to our elevated risk, we will test students more often if they stay overnight off-campus. We recognize the rapid test, or testing only these students is not a perfect solution; however, it’s also a mitigation layer that has helped us on some occasions. To be thorough, all students will take the SHIELD test during the week.
  3. How do I find a testing clinic with rapid tests? Some of you have expressed concerns about COVID clinics, either feeling they aren’t accessible or that some are not reliable. Others have commented that the COVID clinics I referenced in my email have either run out of rapid tests or have been shut down. This information is false. We have called to verify they are equipped, and I have visited them personally. It is plausible some clinics can close, so it’s important to explore options. Please consult the IDPH testing locations along with illinois.gov. Make sure you ask the clinic when you will be notified of the result. A verbal confirmation of a negative result is fine on the same day; however, the paperwork must be presented to the Health Office before students can report to class.

We recognize the requirement of test-to-return impacts your weekend planning for those who are checking out overnight. We hope it’ll last for just a couple of weeks and then our COVID numbers will drop, so we can remove this mitigation following the extended weekend. Thank you for your cooperation in our efforts to remain healthy.

Titans Together,

Dr. Evan M. Glazer
President

February 1, 2022

Dear IMSA Families and Colleagues,

It’s been a pleasure having students on campus as we have launched the second semester. The first week back from break we saw an uptick in COVID cases and then promptly sent people home. Our community health has improved considerably since that time; however, I think the health conditions in the state of Illinois are still worrisome. Hence, we will adjust some mitigation protocols surrounding off-campus activities.

Moving forward from today through February 16, we are asking families who would like an overnight stay away from campus to request permission using this form two days prior to departure. In addition, upon return to campus for overnight stays, we will require students to take a COVID rapid test offsite on the same day they return to campus also through February 16. Note that we are not requiring a PCR test. They will be expected to share the clinic test result with the health office the following morning in order to be granted access to class. A printed result or a screenshot will be permitted as long as it contains the date the test was conducted, the name of the student and the name of the clinic where the test was completed.

You can obtain a free COVID rapid test at many recent pop-up clinics around the state. Those near the school include:

COVID Care Clinic
Aurora – Drive Thru Location
2302 W. Indian Trail, Aurora, IL 60506
Monday – Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

COVID Care Clinic
Aurora Fox Valley Mall
4150 Fox Valley Center Dr., Aurora, IL 60506
Monday – Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

*An at-home (over-the-counter) test result will not be accepted.

These are drive-through clinics in parking lot trailers and not in actual stores.If you are not able to return to campus with a negative COVID test result, then families should take their student to a COVID clinic the next morning when it opens and then show the result to the IMSA health office to receive a pass to class.

If the departure is not overnight and the student returns on the same day, families do not need to complete the request-to-leave campus form. Should you depart campus at any time, we request:

  1. That families limit appointments to those that are absolutely necessary. If you have something that is non-essential, we would prefer you reschedule because we are in a period where the virus is still spreading at a high rate.
  2. Mask-wearing and physical distancing is observed, including in the car, the home and anywhere you may go. We can attest that while a family may be vaccinated and boosted, there are many breakthrough cases that prompt us to emphasize the importance of these mitigations while you are away.
  3. Departures are as short as possible, only for the duration of the appointment. Most of our positive cases are coming from home environments, and we prefer to minimize this as much as possible.

Thank you for working with us as we desire a healthy campus and in-person learning during this recent COVID surge around the state and country.

Titans Together,

Dr. Evan M. Glazer
President

January 31, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

This is a friendly reminder that weekly COVID testing will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 1 from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in Room B101. Tuesdays will be our weekly cadence unless we are placed in outbreak status by the health department. In addition, I wanted to provide an update on community transmission from last week and updates to IMSA’s close contact quarantine guidance based on CDC and IDPH guidance.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending January 29, 1,412 COVID tests were performed. 1,409 tests were negative and three were positive. The positivity rate was 0.2%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information.

Updated IDPH/CDC Guidance on Close Contact Quarantine

In our continued efforts to follow ever-changing CDC and IDPH guidance, we’d like to make you aware of updated quarantine rules for those who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.

If you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should quarantine if you are unvaccinated or not up to date on COVID-19 vaccines. Up to date means you have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. A person is considered “boosted” and up to date right after getting their booster dose. Generally, this applies to persons 12 and older. The current recommendations will be different depending on your age and when you first got vaccinated. The table here can be helpful in determining if you are up to date.

As a reminder, the quarantine period for IMSA students who live in a congregate setting are identified as an unvaccinated close contact, or a close contact not up to date with COVID vaccines or test positive for COVID-19 is 10 days as noted in my communication with you last week. The quarantine period for colleagues is a minimum of five days, followed by 5 days of mask-wearing.

If you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, including boosted when eligible, or you had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days (meaning you tested positive using a viral test), you do not need to quarantine if you are identified as a close contact.

Updated Vaccination Status with IMSA

With the change in close contact guidance, it would be helpful for students and colleagues to provide us with updated vaccine and booster information, so our contact tracing exercises are valid. Student vaccine information can be sent to nurse@imsa.edu. Colleague vaccine information may be sent to vaccine@imsa.edu. If you are a student who was vaccinated or boosted on campus, the IMSA Health Office is already in possession of your information.

The Health Office will be hosting another Vaccine and Booster Clinic this Friday, February 4, 2022. Details and registration information will be shared by the Health Office shortly.

We are all interested in the health and safety of our community. We recognize some families desire more time with their students, so tomorrow you will receive a note from Dr. Glazer regarding updated guidelines for those who wish to checkout of campus.Thank you for your ongoing partnership, patience and understanding as we navigate the course of this pandemic and prioritize the health and safety of our community.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

January 25,2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

Welcome to the spring semester! This is the first report of weekly COVID transmission rates and updates from the Monitoring Committee, including new guidance from the Kane County Health Department that changes the isolation period for our students from five days to 10 days.

COVID Transmission

For the week of January 18 – January 23, 2022, 1,523 COVID tests were performed. 1,506 tests were negative and 17 positive. The positivity rate was 1.1%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information.

Updated Testing Schedule

This week, we are testing twice, today and Thursday, as we complete the outbreak period that began over winter break. Moving forward, weekly SHIELD surveillance testing is scheduled to take place on Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in B101. Should IMSA be placed in outbreak status again by the Kane County Health Department, we will add Thursdays to the testing schedule and notify the community via email, PA announcements and the LiveSafe App.

Monitoring Committee Report, Including New Guidance from Kane Co. Health Department

Our Monitoring Committee reconvened for the first time this semester today and discussed new guidance from the Kane County Health Department as follows:

  • On Monday, January 24, IMSA was informed by the Kane County Health Dept that students who test positive for COVID, or identified as unvaccinated, close contacts must quarantine for the maximum period of 10 days effective immediately. CDC and IDPH require a minimum of five days followed by mask-wearing for an additional five days after the initial five-day quarantine period ends. Because of our double occupancy residential environment, it is not possible for students to wear a mask 24/7 for the additional five-day period. The five-day isolation period for colleagues remains unchanged and will still be in effect.
  • The importance of in-person learning is well documented by the CDC and endorsed by IDPH. That’s one reason why our practice is to activate remote learning for students only when they are unable to participate in person as a result of COVID isolation, or a doctor’s note.

Unlike many other schools and daycares, our health partners utilize guidance for IMSA that is in line with nursing homes and long-term care facilities. As such, IMSA’s practices differ from what we see other education and business organizations implementing. We adhere closely to guidance from the CDC, IDPH and the Kane County Health Department as the health and safety of our community is and will always be our highest priority.

IMSA is pleased to announce the hiring of a COVID Care Coordinator, Ms. Deanna Carrier, to assist families and colleagues who experience COVID and to support IMSA’s mitigation and response efforts.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

January 24, 2022

Dear Students and Colleagues,

This is to remind you that required weekly SHIELD Testing is now on Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in B101 beginning January 25, 2022.

You must participate in testing regardless of your vaccination status. Please do not eat or drink one hour before testing.

Thank you for helping keep our community safe.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.

Interim Chief Strategy Officer


January 20, 2022

Dear Colleagues and Families,

Welcome back to Campus. This is a reminder that we will conduct SHIELD testing tomorrow, Thursday, January 20 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. in B101. You must participate in testing regardless of your vaccination status. Please do not eat or drink one hour before testing.

As a reminder, SHIELD testing results are reported on the SHIELD testing portal approximately 48 hours after the testing has been completed.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

January  13, 2022

IMSA Colleagues and Families,

We look forward to welcoming our community back to campus next week! As you prepare for the return, I want to share with you information about returning, hybrid and remote scenario planning given the impact of the Omicron variant, as well as additional mitigation measures and changes to CDC and IDPH guidelines. We remain committed to in-person learning in partnership with the Kane County Health Department and strict adherence to IDPH and CDC guidance during this global pandemic.

Residence Halls will reopen on Monday, January 17 at 3:00 p.m. Students should quarantine in their halls until the rapid test event on Tuesday, Jan. 18 from 7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Classes begin at 9:00 a.m. All students are required to be on campus by 7:30 a.m. on January 18. Students who are unable to return to campus due to COVID related matters should reach out to Mr. Paul Gaszak at pgaszak@imsa.edu in the Principal’s Office for information on a hybrid learning plan to access classrooms remotely. Students who are not impacted by COVID are expected to return to campus for in-person learning.

As part of our scenario planning, we’d like to gather information from families that will help us respond to the needs of students should they become unable to participate in person later this semester for health reasons. Students and their respective parents/guardians will receive an email later today with a survey to help identify their needs. There is a unique link for each IMSA student. The form can only be completed one time per student. We ask that students and their parent(s)/guardian(s) complete the form together to ensure accurate information, and so all parties are not attempting to complete the same form at the same time. A survey response is needed for each student no later than January 16.

Omicron Variant and Additional Mitigation Measures

Omicron cases look to continue to be on the rise this month and are nearing their peak – check outthis graphic of projected cases. We will continue mitigations that sustain our in-person efforts. This will include a return to restricting student trips home January 17 – January 31, similar to procedures used in September. We recognize there is some personal sacrifice to stay on campus; however, please recognize the overall benefit to public health and maintaining in-person learning. Families can request an exemption to check out their student if they have previously arranged a medical appointment or another significant need that is non-social in nature. Please submit any exemption requests for review on this form 48 hours in advance. Note our preference is the off-campus appointment is short term without overnight stays. Depending on the length of absence, we may require proof of a negative COVID test upon return before our regular testing cycle.

Required COVID rapid testing for all students and colleagues is scheduled for Tuesday, January 18 from 7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m., prior to classes beginning at 9:00 a.m. A second required SHIELD testing event for the community will be held on Thursday, January 20 from 11:00 a.m – 6:00 p.m. Moving forward, required weekly SHIELD testing for all colleagues and students will be held Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in B101. Hybrid colleagues will continue to test weekly in the Health Office if they are not on campus Tuesdays.

The best mitigation to fight COVID is vaccination plus booster, so IMSA is pleased to host a Pfizer Vaccine Clinic on Friday, January 21 for students and a Vaccine/Booster Clinic with all three vaccines for all community members on Friday, February 4. Registration details to come.

New CDC and IDPH Guidance

On Jan. 11, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) officially adopted updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and incorporated it into their Updated Public Health Guidance for Schools. 

This updated guidance shortens the isolation and quarantine periods for public and private PreK-12 schools so that regardless of vaccination status, colleagues or students who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for a minimum of 5 days and a maximum of 10 days after the first day of symptoms or the specimen collection date from a positive viral test. Additionally:

  • Colleagues or students must be fever-free without fever-reducing medication for 24 hours, diarrhea/vomiting have ceased for 24 hours, and other symptoms have improved.
  • Colleagues or students must wear a well-fitting mask around others (including at home) for 5 additional days.
  • Students may not engage in sports competitions or musical performances during the 5 additional days.
  • Vaccinated students and staff who have been identified as close contacts and are free of symptoms do not need to quarantine.
  • Unvaccinated close contacts must quarantine for 5 days from the last date of exposure, wear a mask around others for five additional days and remain asymptomatic.

Effective immediately, IMSA will implement the updated guidance moving forward. For those currently in COVID-19 quarantine and isolation, our goal will be to modify existing plans according to this new guidance by Friday, January 14.

Thank you for your continued partnership and support as we navigate this time together. We are excited to welcome our students and teachers back to campus and have a great start to the second semester!

Titans Together,

Dr. Evan M. Glazer
President

December 17, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am pleased to provide a report to the community regarding weekly COVID transmission rates and updates from the Monitoring Committee.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending December 10, 2021, a total of 881 tests were performed. 879 tests were negative. Two tests were positive resulting in a 0.2% positivity rate. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Monitoring Committee

A report of the Monitoring Committee is as follows:

  • Capacity in the wing hall commons was expanded to 24 students for curfew check. Students must be masked, stand in their assigned place and stand next to their roommate for the five minute curfew check exercise.
  • A separate communication will be sent to colleagues regarding Jan. 3-7 which will be a remote work week for non-essential employees, as well as information on COVID-19 testing the week of Jan. 10-14.
  • This was the last meeting of the Monitoring Committee for the 2021 calendar year. The group will resume its work on January 25, 2022 and meet on alternating weeks thereafter unless public or campus health conditions require a weekly cadence.
  • A post-winter break testing event will occur upon the return of our students on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022 from 7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. with a 9:00 a.m. late start schedule.
  • Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, IMSA surveillance testing will pivot to the SHIELD saliva-based COVID-19 test for all members of the community. The weekly time will be 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in Room B101.

I wish for you all a safe winter break with happiness galore!

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

December 9, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am pleased to provide a report to the community regarding weekly COVID transmission rates and updates from the Monitoring Committee.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending December 3, 2021, a total of 1,643 tests were performed. 1640 tests were negative. Three tests were positive resulting in a 0.2% positivity rate. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Monitoring Committee

A report of the Monitoring Committee is as follows:

  • A post-winter break testing event is planned upon the return of our students on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 from 7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. with a 9:00 a.m. late start schedule.
  • Beginning Tuesday, January 25, 2022, IMSA surveillance testing will return to the SHIELD saliva-based COVID-19 test. This past October, SHIELD reduced their services to us limited testing to only unvaccinated individuals. However, because of the increased risk to our residential community, the omicron variant and rising cases statewide, the IDPH has approved resumption of SHIELD testing for both our vaccinated and unvaccinated students and colleagues. Note the weekly testing schedule will change to Tuesdays beginning 1/25/22. The time will be 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in Room B101. SHIELD is a more highly accurate test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (99%).
  • We expect that there will be no further peeling back of mitigation measures both statewide and at IMSA for the next several months; and as a result, the Monitoring Committee will move from a weekly meeting schedule to every other week starting in January. This cadence is subject to change based on the conditions of public health and the health of the IMSA community.
  • A reminder that IMSA has partnered with VNA to secure first, second, and booster doses of the three COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible staff and students. These vaccines will be given on campus, in room B101 on December 14 and December 17. Register here.

Rapid testing continues today from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and again next Thursday, December 16. The health, safety, and care of the community is our top priority. Thank you for your continued support.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

December 2, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am pleased to provide a report to the community regarding weekly COVID transmission rates and updates from the Monitoring Committee who is keeping close watch on our health and safety protocols.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending November 26, a total of 105 tests were performed. Due to the shortened Thanksgiving week, testing was limited to students traveling on downstate buses and high-risk populations. 104 tests were negative. There was one positive test/case. The positivity rate was 1%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Monitoring Committee

Members of the Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday and recommended the following actions which have been approved by Cabinet:

  • Because of the number of volunteers that kindly gave their time to help with testing, the November 29 early morning testing was a success. A similar event will occur after winter break on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 with one modification: to accommodate for more teaching and learning time, testing will be held from 7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. with a shortened class schedule beginning at 9:00 a.m. instead of 10:00 a.m.
  • The protocol for student visitation to Hall common areas was updated as follows: Students will be allowed to go to any residence hall common area freely so long as they check in with the RC in the RC office of the building they are visiting to let them know they are there visiting. Students no longer need to ask permission from their RC Office to go to another building.

I imagine most of you are keeping an eye on the Omicron COVID variant, but I would like to offer a few reminders to remain diligent in your personal mitigation efforts, including mask-wearing and physical distancing.

Also as a reminder, we will hold regular testing today from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in B101.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

November 23, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am pleased to share the weekly COVID transmission report and important information about a special testing event scheduled for Monday, November 29 from 7:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending November 19, a total of 874 tests were performed. 872 tests were negative. There were two positive tests and confirmed cases. The positivity rate was 0.2%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Special November 29 Testing Event, 7:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. and Late Start Schedule
  • All students and student-facing colleagues must test on Monday, November 29 during the 7:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. testing window in Room B101 before proceeding to the first mod which will start at 10:00 a.m. We have assembled a team of 12 volunteers to administer testing during this period of time.
  • Students will receive a red TESTED card that they will need to present to their first mod teacher as evidence that they tested.
  • Colleagues will have their own testing station available exclusively for them and are encouraged to test between 7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. to avoid check-in lines.
  • Hybrid colleagues will proceed to the Health Office on the first day they are on campus for testing before proceeding to their work space (Tuesday or Wednesday).
  • A second testing event will be held according to the regular Thursday testing schedule from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in B101 on December 2.

The Monitoring Committee did not meet this week. Thank you for your attention to our post-Thanksgiving plans. Wishing you all a wonderful break.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

November 18, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am pleased to share the weekly COVID transmission and Monitoring Committee Report.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending November 12, a total of 834 tests were performed. 833 tests were negative. There was one positive test and confirmed case. The positivity rate was less than 0.1%. Please visit theCommunity Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Monitoring Committee

Members of the Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday and discussed a modified schedule for Monday, November 29 when the community returns from the Thanksgiving break.

  • On Monday, November 29, a special 10:00 a.m. late start schedule will be implemented to accommodate COVID testing between 7:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. All students and student-facing colleagues will be required to test during this window in Room B101 before proceeding to their first mod class, or work space. Students will receive a red TESTED card that they will need to present to their first mod teacher as evidence that they tested.
  • Hybrid colleagues will proceed to the Health Office on the first day they are on campus the week of November 29 for testing before proceeding to their work space (Tuesday or Wednesday).
  • A second testing event will be held per the regular Thursday testing schedule on December 2.
Important Reminders
  • The following progressive discipline measures will be taken if students fail to complete a weekly COVID test:
  • First Offense: Email to student and parent in addition to a personal conversation.
  • Second Offense: 6:30 p.m. hard check for a period of one week.
  • Third Offense: Loss of extra-curricular privileges for a period of one week.
  • Please consider taking advantage of the December 14 and December 17 COVID-19 Booster Shot opportunities being made available to colleagues and students on campus.

Members of the Monitoring Committee and Cabinet recognize and acknowledge the sacrifices our community is making to prevent the spread of COVID-19, ensuring we maintain an in-person learning environment. Thank you for your grace, patience, empathy and flexibility. Looking different is essential in getting us through this new reality.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

November 11, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to share the weekly COVID transmission rates and Monitoring Committee Report from the week ending November 5, 2021.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending November 5, a total of 916 tests were performed. 915 tests were negative. There was one positive test. The positivity rate was 0.1%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Monitoring Committee

Members of the Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday. The following refinements to the Return to Learn Plan were made and affirmed on Wednesday by Cabinet:

  • Eating in small groups is permitted by colleagues provided there is enough room capacity to be seated six feet apart with masks off for eating. For example, if you are at a shared table in a conference room, make sure people who are eating are spaced out twice what you normally expect in a classroom. In our upcoming cook-off and bake-off in the gymnasium, the intent is that you grab a sample, walk away from the table, briefly drop your mask to eat the bite-size portion, and then put your mask back up until the next sampling table.
  • The following progressive discipline measures will be taken if students fail to complete a weekly COVID test – First Offense: Email to student and parent in addition to a personal conversation. Second Offense: 6:30 p.m. hard check for a period of one week. Third Offense: Suspension from extracurricular activities for a period of one week.
  • Colleagues who are on campus and fail to take a weekly COVID test will first be notified by email. If continued absenteeism for COVID testing persists, a referral to their supervisor will be made.

As a reminder, the Return to Learn Plan instructs colleagues with shared office spaces to wear a mask unless there is a cubicle wall in place or barrier above head height when seated in which case a mask can be removed. Also, please consider taking advantage of the December 14 and December 17 COVID-19 Booster Shot opportunities being made available to colleagues and students.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

November 9, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

My apologies for the delay in sending out the weekly COVID transmission rates and monitoring committee report from the week ending October 29.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending October 29, a total of 888 tests were performed. 887 tests were negative. There was one positive test. The positivity rate was 0.1%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Monitoring Committee

Members of the Monitoring Committee met Tuesday; however, there was not a Cabinet meeting to approve recommendations from the group, so please expect any new refinements next week. The is one clarification from last week about large group eating that may be helpful:

  • Meals and eating represent one of the highest-risk settings within the Academy. To mitigate this risk, eating in large groups is only permitted in the cafeteria, outdoors and in the gymnasium by reservation only and with a minimum of three feet of physical distance. The Monitoring Committee is discussing guidelines for eating in small groups.

I will send out the report for the week ending November 5 tomorrow afternoon. Thank you for understanding.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

October 27, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am pleased to provide a report to the community regarding weekly COVID transmission rates and updates from the Monitoring Committee who is keeping close watch on our health and safety protocols.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending October 22, a total of 777 tests were performed. All 777 tests were negative. The positivity rate was 0.0% for the fifth week in a row. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Monitoring Committee

Members of the Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday with the following outcomes:

  • The community should be reminded of the once weekly test schedule below which has been posted in signs and TV monitors throughout the building. Students and colleagues who do not test will be contacted via class slip, email, or P.A. announcement.
    1. Vaccinated individuals will test once per week on Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in B101
    2. Unvaccinated individuals will test once per week on Thursdays at a time and location sent via email from Angie Shoener, Coordinator of Health Services.
    3. Hybrid colleagues may test on Tuesdays or Wednesdays in the Health Office.
    4. Testing will no longer be available in the Health Office on Mondays and Fridays.
  • Meals and eating represent one of the highest-risk settings within the Academy. Masks are removed and the act of eating and talking, usually with increased projection, can increase transmission risk. To mitigate this risk, group eating is only permitted in the cafeteria and outdoors with a minimum of three feet of physical distance.

On a related note of health and well-being, the single best way to reduce the risk of seasonal flu and its potentially serious complications is to get vaccinated each year. In addition, good health habits like avoiding people who are sick, covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

October 20, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am pleased to provide a report to the community regarding weekly COVID transmission rates and updates from the Monitoring Committee who is keeping close watch on our health and safety protocols.

COVID Transmission

For the week ending October 15, a total of 1,400 tests were performed. Because of the extended break, we implemented a second testing day as an extra layer of precaution. All 1,400 tests were negative. The positivity rate was 0.0% for the fourth week in a row. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

Monitoring Committee

Members of the Monitoring Committee met on Tuesday. There were several refinements to the Return to Learn and Work Plan to include:

  1. Visitors must be adults or students accompanied by an adult. Unaccompanied student visitors without a business purpose are not permitted on campus at this time.
  2. SHIELD has reduced their service hours to one hour per week for unvaccinated individuals. As such, the surveillance testing protocol was modified to once per week for all students and colleagues regardless of vaccination status. If public health conditions change or Academy positivity rates become of concern, this cadence is subject to change. However, beginning this week, the testing schedule is as follows:
  • Vaccinated individuals will continue to test once per week on Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in B101.
  • Unvaccinated individuals will also now test once per week. Individuals should have received an email from Angie Shoener, Coordinator of Health Services, with the testing day, location and time.
  • Hybrid colleagues may test on Tuesdays or Wednesdays in the Health Office.
  • Testing will no longer be available in the Health Office on Mondays and Fridays.
  1. The salad bar will reopen in the cafeteria for self-serve. Tongs will be replaced every hour and gloves will be provided.
  2. The Wellness Center will look to open soon for colleague use. Stay tuned for more details.

The health, safety, and care of the community is our top priority. As a reminder, we will host a flu vaccine event for students and colleagues today from 1:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. in B101.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

October 13, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I hope you enjoyed the extended break and summer-like holiday weekend.

A total of 890 tests were performed the week ending October 8, 2021. All 890 tests were negative. The positivity rate was 0.0% for the third week in a row. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information.

COVID Testing Thursday, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in B101

All students and colleagues will test again on Thursday, October 14 between 11:00 a.m – 3:00 p.m. in B101.

Monitoring Committee

Members of the Monitoring Committee met yesterday:

  • Please be reminded that eating is not permitted in the classroom.
  • Please be reminded that the cafeteria seating is limited to four individuals per table
  • Please be reminded that visitors to group events/meetings/athletic events are permitted guided by our operating principle that guests are to be separated from IMSA students.
  • Individual guests are permitted to visit the Main Academic Building under the following guidelines:
    • There is a business purpose for the visit (i.e. state legislator tour/visit)
    • A prior appointment has been scheduled
    • The individual(s) is escorted at all times by an IMSA colleague
    • There is no interaction with students inside the building. Interaction is permissible outside with masks and physical distancing.
    • There are no visits to classrooms

The health, safety, and care of the community is our top priority. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for all of us and we are doing our part to bend the curve in our community and in the state while continuing to fulfill our mission. Thank you for sharing in this responsibility.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

October 7, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am pleased to provide a weekly update to the community about the work of the Monitoring Committee and advance notice of the COVID testing schedule for next week. As a reminder, all students and colleagues should test today, Thursday, from 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. in B101. Students will receive a red card after testing that they should turn in with their keys before departing campus today as evidence of testing.

As you’ll read here, we will begin to loosen some mitigations next week while also balancing the health and safety of our community. Thank you in advance for allowing some flexibility as we test a few new approaches, including a change in colleague and student entrance locations. Please read on.

Monitoring Committee

The Monitoring Committee held its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. Highlights include:

  • Beginning Monday, October 18, we will discontinue temperature scanners in the Main Academic Building and in the Residential Halls.
  • Beginning October 12, 2021, one additional student from the same wing will be permitted in another residence hall room (maximum of three students in the room) if these conditions are met: The roommate gives consent, masks are worn by all three students and the door remains open.
  • Beginning October 12, 2021, the West Parking Lot and the Employee Entrance (Door 24) will re-open. Fobs should be used for entry. Most employees should change from parking in the East Lot to the West Lot as Door 1 will shift over to visitors only. However, Door 6 on the East Side is an alternative.
  • Beginning October 12, 2012, Door 18 (West Side) and Door 6 East Side (near receiving) will open for access to the Main Academic Building.  Both students and colleagues will have access to these entrances and should use their fob to enter the building
  • Beginning October 12, 2021, IMSA will permit visitors to designated spaces inside the Main Academic Building for events, athletic competitions, meetings and programs based on capacity limits and strict mitigations per the Event Visitors COVID-19 Guidelines and Protocols. With this, only visitors will be permitted to enter the Main Entrance (Door 1). A summary of the guidance is as follows:
    • IMSA’s operating principle in permitting visitors to the Main Building for events is to force separation between our students and visitors, including the use of designated visitor access locations/doors and spaces.
    • In order to allow for separation of IMSA students and visitors, the following access locations are designated for use exclusively by visitors.  No students or colleagues will be allowed access to these entrance areas:
  • Door 1 (Main Entrance) – Adult visitors coming to IMSA to attend an event, program or meeting, should enter Door 1 (Main Entrance) and check-in at the Security desk using a state-issued ID. Security will run the visitor’s name through the Raptor Visitor Management System before being issued a visitor badge. Visitors should proceed directly to the designated space. Visitors, including parents, should not interact with students inside the Main Academic Building, but are free to do so outside.
  • Visitors coming to IMSA to attend an Indoor Athletic Competition as a spectator, should enter Door 13 for the Gym and Door 14 for the Pool and proceed to the Gym or Pool based on capacity limits. Masks are required and will be enforced as will separation of IMSA students and visitors.
  • Other Entrances: Non-IMSA students participating in the Center for Teaching and Learning and Pre-Admissions Programs may use other entrances not already designated for IMSA students and colleagues with the permission of Facilities and Security on a case-by-case basis.
  • A lead organizer should be identified as the responsible party for each event in which visitors are invited to attend. This individual will be responsible for ensuring or designating someone to ensure all guidelines are followed.
Testing Twice for All the Week of 10/12/21-10/15/21

We will depart from our regular testing cadence next week to twice a week testing for all as a precautionary measure based on the extended break and holiday:

  • All students and colleagues will test on Tuesday, October 12 and Thursday, October 14  between 11:00 a.m – 3:00 p.m. in B101.

Enjoy a wonderful break and stay well.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

September 24, 2021

Dear IMSA Students (cc’ing families),

We’ve been very fortunate to have a low weekly COVID-19 rate since the onset of the school year. I would like to thank our students, faculty and staff, and families for doing their best to follow our mitigation efforts. This has required a lot of adjustment, particularly for our seniors, and I think most would attest it has been worth it in order to sustain in-person learning. I would also like to thank our Monitoring Committee for constantly reflecting on our plans each week to determine what has been working well and where revision has been necessary, and a new student monitoring committee has formed to offer feedback from a student perspective.

Earlier this month I shared concern over the impact of the Delta variant, where a health risk was imminent with high rates in the country and breakthrough cases were popping up among people who were vaccinated. This has also been occurring at IMSA. The Illinois governor issued extra mitigation measures, including wearing masks indoors and vaccination for everyone who works in schools. I also asked that we limit travel to essential appointments. I recognize these limitations have created some inconveniences for families, and appreciate all of your efforts to make adjustments in your schedules, so we can be healthy and continue in-person learning. Some of your families came to campus to spend time with you, others cut back or moved extracurricular practices online, and those of you who checked out from campus kept time away to a minimum.

Projections for the Delta variant appear to be leveling off at the end of the month, so we will adjust our guidelines for departures starting October 1 — you will not need to seek permission for special circumstances (and previous requests for October departures can be adjusted to your preference). This guideline adjustment will continue for as long as the IMSA community health and state/national community health conditions remain stable. We are still in a pandemic, and COVID rates are no small potatoes, matching those from January 2021. I ask that you become obsessed with monitoring physical distancing while away from campus, and wear masks when that is not possible. Please avoid large social events like homecoming events at other schools, and do not invite a bunch of friends over to hang out in your basement or living room without wearing masks. Most of our COVID cases come from home situations, probably because that’s the place you feel most comfortable to let your guard down. We know it’s never intentional to pass along a virus to people you trust and love, especially because transmission often occurs when people are asymptomatic. Unfortunately I’ve witnessed this happen too many times over the last year and a half. Many of you have stated that your home situation is safe because you’re all vaccinated, and I can assure you from our own cases there will still be a risk for transmission. I believe that risk will plateau in October, so it’s worth giving it a try and adjusting based on the impact.

As we continue to live with COVID, we will always be managing risk without a perfect solution because there will constantly be trade-offs. Our experience in 2020-2021 was a huge trade-off and we don’t want to go there again. I recognize there are multiple dimensions to well-being that extend beyond physical health, and I hope this policy adjustment will support some family needs while keeping the campus healthy. There are plenty of other mitigation measures we will continue to evaluate, and students are also encouraged to promote their own solutions in our Innovation Grant under the category of well-being (due October 1). For example, I am aware there are some quirks with physical distancing in the cafeteria and previously in residential hall commons. I’m willing to bet students have some clever ideas to address those concerns in ways that rely less on regulation and more on promoting self-awareness, so that students can make good decisions about personal space on their own without a reminder.

Thank you all for doing your part, so we can be safe on and off campus. I wish you a happy and healthy fall season, and look forward to seeing your Innovation Grant proposals.

Titans Together,

Dr. Evan M. Glazer
President & CEO

September 23, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

Thank you for your patience and understanding regarding my later than usual outreach.  We have been working with SHIELD on a series of new testing schedules based on an expected reduction in their service as the requirement that all IMSA colleagues and students are tested twice per week expires at the end of the month.

COVID Transmission

With regard to a COVID transmission report, for the week ending September 17, 1,596 COVID tests were performed. 1,595 tests were negative and one was positive.  The positivity rate was less than 0.1%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information. Also, please understand that a student or colleague unable to participate in-person does not signal a positive case and should not be assumed as such. There are many reasons our community members need to temporarily learn or work from a distance.

Updated Testing Schedule for 9/27-10/1

All students and colleagues will test twice a week on the following days/times:

  • Monday, September 27: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in B101
  • Thursday, September 30: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in B101

If you are a colleague working a hybrid schedule on Tuesdays or Wednesdays only, please report to the Health Office on either day to test, depending on which day you are scheduled to be on campus.  The Health Office Hours are 8:00 a.m – 4:00 p.m.

October Testing Schedule

We have been working with our testing partner, SHIELD, on a new testing schedule for October as they begin to reduce their service hours upon the expiration of our mandated twice per week testing cadence. With this requirement expiring, we will begin a transition to our Return to Learn and Work Plan beginning October 4 which calls for:

  •  Employees and students who are vaccinated to test once per week. We will consider extra testing for long weekends (including Columbus Day), symptomatic students, close contacts and recommendations from the Kane County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Employees and students who are unvaccinated to test at least twice per week.

Expect a week-to-week testing schedule for most of October due to the extended break and Columbus Day Holiday. I realize this places an additional burden on colleagues and students to stay abreast of weekly changes, but be assured that the schedule will normalize beginning October 18 through at least the Thanksgiving break.  Thank you for your flexibility.

Monitoring Committee

Our Monitoring Committee held its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. Highlights include:

  • There is a limit of four persons per table in the cafeteria. Signage will be installed on the plexiglas dividers to remind students of the table capacity.
  • Approval of athletic guidelines, procedures and protocols for students, coaches, officials, staff, spectators and external athletes regarding check-in, locker rooms, hand-washing, cleaning and testing for IMSA athletes. IMSA students will not be allowed to sign out for games unless they have completed their COVID test, if required on that day.
  • A discussion about whether temperature scanners are an effective mitigation layer was held. Consultation with science faculty and revised CDC guidance will be researched and reported back on.
  • Faculty are encouraged to provide some form of remote access to class for students who are unable to participate in classes in-person for reasons outside of a student’s control. We recognize the experience will not be the same as in-person learning, and also want a conduit to ask questions where possible.
  • An update on current health conditions, including updated guidelines for student trips home, will be communicated by Dr. Glazer on Friday.
  • The Office Student Affairs is reporting that they have been providing corrective action to students who have not been following mask-wearing and physical distancing closely. Thank you to those who have been reporting concerns as well as the vast majority who have been following our guidelines closely.
  • The Return to Learn Plan has been updated based on adjustments communicated over the past month.

Thank you for your support of our health and safety mitigation efforts intended to keep the IMSA Community well.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

September 16, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I hope your week is going well.  I am sharing an additional update with you on behalf of the Monitoring Committee based on a very busy meeting Tuesday with this very dedicated group:

  • Student trips home continue to be restricted. The worst case trend right now shows a national COVID case peak at the end of September. We are pleased that IMSA’s COVID rate remains below 1%; however, we’re not yet comfortable to enable free movement without pre-arranged approval because Delta is still impacting the state of Illinois significantly. With conditions improving, Dr. Glazer will re-evaluate week to week and adjust our protocols based on improvements in community health and trends in the state and nation. For now, families can request an exemption to check out their student if they have previously arranged a medical appointment or another significant need that is non-social in nature. Please submit any exemption requests for review on this form. Note our preference is the off-campus appointment is short term. While we are on campus, our Residential Life and School Leadership teams will continue to keep students engaged in a fun and safe manner.
  • We expect students to go home for the long weekend Oct 7-11. Depending on public health at that time, we will implement health mitigation measures upon return to campus (such as limited movement on the day they return).
  • As a reminder, families can visit their children on campus if they first check-in with Security, meet with their child outside, stay on campus and wear masks. Family members do not need to check in with Security if they are dropping students back off on campus (and are not remaining on campus/visiting outside). Additionally, spectators attending outdoor athletic events do not need to check in with Security.
  • Masks are required for all spectators at athletics events, including outdoor events. If students are more than six feet apart outside, they may remove their masks unless they are a spectator at an athletic event. As a protective measure, visitors are not permitted to attend indoor athletic events in September.  Indoor athletic competitions can be watched via livestream.
  • A student focus group is forming to provide the input to the Monitoring Committee. Students serving will represent the student voice, but also come equipped with solutions on how to make our environment better and safer. The expectation is that the student members of the focus group will be the contacts for their peers to go to with concerns and/or feedback. They will be active and solicit student feedback and solutions to any issues that are brought forward.
  • The number of days a colleague or student can be off campus without proof of a negative test is reduced from 7 days to 5 days due to the emergence of the delta variant incubation period. The initial alpha strain was 7-10 days.
  • We are piloting a new protocol for bus transportation given the statewide shortage of buses and bus drivers. Students riding in IMSA vehicles should maintain three feet of physical distance and sit one person per bench sheet when possible. When not possible, the following additional mitigations will be required to allow for two persons per seat:
    • A seating chart must be created and the students must sit in the same spots driving to and from the event.
    • No eating or drinking on the bus.
    • Masks must be worn at all times.
    • Windows should be lowered for increased ventilation. If this is not possible, the vehicle’s air ventilation system can be used to circulate air, provided that the outside intake setting is used and not the interior recirculation setting.

These new protocols comply with IDPH guidelines. Stops to and from the event should not be made unless it is absolutely necessary, e.g. obtaining gas, emergency bathroom stop, etc. As a reminder, this is a pilot. If students are unable to follow these rules, the decision to revert back to “one student per seat bench” will be reinstated. Cameras are on each bus and will be reviewed as a tool to evaluate this pilot.

If we missed anything, you would like to ask a question, or bring forth a need for clarification, please submit it here and we will add it to the FAQ document for the benefit of our community.

Thank you for your support of our health and safety mitigation efforts intended to keep the IMSA Community well.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

September 13, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Families,

I am pleased to provide a weekly update to the community about COVID transmission and the work of the Monitoring Committee.

With regard to a COVID transmission report, for the week ending September 10, 1,588 COVID tests were performed. 1,587 tests were negative and one was positive. The positivity rate was less than 0.1%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information. Also, please understand that a student or colleague unable to participate in-person does not signal a positive case and should not be assumed as such. There are many reasons our community members need to temporarily learn or work from a distance.

Please be reminded that students and colleagues are required to test twice a week upon the direction of the Kane County Health Department through September 23, 2021.

Our Monitoring Committee will hold its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. I intend to report on outcomes from the meeting and adjustments to the Return to Learn and Work Plan as part of my regular cadence next Monday.

Thank you for your support of our health and safety mitigation efforts intended to keep the IMSA Community well.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

September 10, 2021

Dear IMSA Students,

I hope the first three weeks of school have gone well for you and you are making good friends. I appreciate your patience and feedback as we have worked out a few wrinkles, such as food service and COVID testing. I hope you have seen improvements. The adults in the building also have scientific and engineering minds — we look at data to make decisions, and then refine our approach to yield better outcomes.

We are a community that values being a laboratory for inquiry and imagination. We believe great ideas can come from anyone on campus, and now I am pleased to share that we want to offer up to $2000 in financial support for ideas that reflect the Academy’s priorities of well-being, Equity and Excellence and impact. Please see the solicitation for proposals, due October 1, and let me know if you have questions. I look forward to reading about your great ideas and initiatives and hope to support as many as possible.

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a day of tragedy for our country, where thousands of innocent lives were lost. I know you weren’t alive then, but  you may know plenty of people who were. I’m confident that day will stick in their minds forever because of the impact it had (and still has to this day). One of my colleagues lost his brother in the attack on the Pentagon, and the mother of my friend’s roommate was on one of the planes that hit the twin towers. Most recently I lived in New York City and have heard the first-hand stories of people who were assigned to dig through the rubble. Please know there are many people who will pause tomorrow in remembrance of those who perished and those who also fought for our freedom.

We are also living through a tragedy right now because hundreds of thousands of Americans have died due to COVID. I’m confident you will tell your children one day you remember the time you had to stay home for a year and learn over Zoom, and all of the restrictions put in place at IMSA. I realize it’s uncomfortable for some of you because you do not have the same independence and openness that you so much desire. You have to make personal sacrifices for the health of your peers, and more importantly, the people among us who may be more vulnerable with their health. Please don’t think being vaccinated is enough. Yes, it’s incredibly important; however, we’ve had some breakthrough cases due to the Delta variant. Every single one of us has to be conscientious that our personal actions can affect the community as a whole, and I want to give a shout out to those of you who speak up to reinforce safety. These types of actions protect your RCs who live with you, protect your teachers who so much value teaching in person and of course, your roommates and fellow teammates.

Last, a newsletter from Student Affairs will go out today to talk about weekend activities. We want you to know we think about your well-being and having something to enjoy in a safe manner. These types of activities don’t have to be initiated by adults — they can be created and led by anyone on campus. Our residential life team is awesome and has already done a lot to take care of you, so please chip in to help when you can. As you know, there are limitations on leaving campus in an effort to keep our community safe. I will share that some students have been granted permission to leave for necessary appointments. For example, some of you are taking the SAT/ACT. My wish is that you checkout and check back in on the same day because our COVID cases are most often traced to home situations. If you are home for an evening, I ask that you be vigilant in every way possible to avoid social activities and maintain physical distancing so that we can ensure you are safe and our campus community is safe upon your return. Please do your part when no one is watching.

Thank you for being the thoughtful, curious, respectful and caring people I have come to know over the past few weeks. I love being around you and worry about your health and safety every day. Let’s work together to keep our community strong and healthy.

Titans Together,

Dr. Evan M. Glazer
President

September 8, 2021

Dear IMSA Students and Families,

I hope you have enjoyed the start to the school year. It has been delightful to see students and colleagues in person with our wide variety of health and safety mitigation measures. I hope you watched this welcome video, which has a fun math rap, and so far I’ve personally enjoyed helping students with math questions throughout the campus. On August 23, we launched the year with Convocation, featuring school-spirited remarks from our Student Council President, Jakob Bachhausen ‘22,  personal reflections from alumnae Lacey Thomas ‘08 (keynote speaker) and a performance from Neil Wary ‘18. This past weekend, I hope you had a chance to participate in our annual Carnival, with fun-filled games and rides, and if you’re like my children, you also had your face painted.

I imagine most of you are keeping an eye on tighter COVID regulations across the state, first with mask wearing in schools and now mask wearing in indoor settings. Professionals in schools are now required to get the vaccine. This is in response to the growth in the Delta variant of COVID-19 cases.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation offers helpful data that illustrate trends and projections. You can see from this graphic we are at a pivotal point where conditions can become much worse if additional proactive measures are not put in place.

Therefore, IMSA will also now alter its approach in an effort to maintain a healthy community and in-person learning. First, under the guidance of the Kane County Department of Health, during the month of September, we will conduct a COVID test for all community members on campus twice a week, regardless of vaccination status. While unvaccinated community members have been testing positive more frequently, we have also seen vaccinated community members also test positive. Since we have been undergoing surveillance screening, we have been detecting COVID with little to no symptoms; simply put, it’s not obvious when someone is a carrier. Right now, this is manageable with a positive rate below 1%, however it can get worse without proper intervention. It is imperative you share with us when a family member tests positive, particularly if that should occur during Labor Day and your student is at home. For those students identified as close contacts, those students should remain at home and will be given access to classrooms remotely.

We have noticed a majority of COVID cases are a result of being in direct contact with family members or friends outside the IMSA community. Therefore, we will institute a few more precautions in the coming month. First, as you return from the Labor Day extended weekend, we are asking all students to remain within their hall upon their return and not visit other halls. We will conduct COVID testing the next day to verify health status. Second, we will begin restricting trips home after Labor Day. The worst case trend right now shows a national COVID case peak at the end of September with conditions improving in October, however we will evaluate week to week and adjust our protocols based on improvements in community health. I recognize this is not a desirable situation for students and families as they wish to have access to family time and home cooking. And, at the same time, I hope you recognize we must put some controls in place to limit potential spread and maintain learning in person. Recognizing the impact on potential personal needs, we will offer some accommodations. Families can arrange to see their children on campus if they first check-in with security, meet with their child outside, stay on campus, wear masks and are not in range of other students. In addition, families can request an exemption to check out their student if they have previously arranged a medical appointment or another significant need that is non-social in nature. Please submit any exemption requests to me for review on this form no later than September 9, and note our preference is the off-campus appointment is short term. While we are on campus, our Residential Life and School Leadership teams will work closely with students to keep them engaged in a safe manner.

I appreciate your cooperation and understanding during this pivotal time during the pandemic, a time when we can find the light at the end of the tunnel if we put all mitigation measures in place. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or ideas to support our efforts.

Titans Together,

Dr. Evan M. Glazer
President

September 8, 2021

Dear Families,

With the Labor Day Holiday this past Monday and a second meeting of the Monitoring Committee held yesterday, I thought my weekly update on COVID transmission and adjustments to the Return to Learn and Work Plan would be more thoughtful and informative today, Wednesday.

With regard to a COVID transmission report, for the week ending September 3, 1,687 COVID tests were performed. 1,686 tests were negative and one was positive.  The positivity rate was less than 0.1%. Please visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information. Also, please understand that a student or colleague unable to participate in-person does not signal a positive case and should not be assumed as such. There are many reasons our community members need to temporarily learn or work from a distance.

The Kane County Health Department requires us to test twice a week through September 23. After that point, unless our health department advises otherwise, we will pivot to a once per week surveillance testing schedule.

While we are pleased to report weekly positivity rates below 1%, the Monitoring Committee is keeping a sharp eye on shifts to the RLWP necessary to maintain our in-person learning and working environment. We thought it would be helpful to list a few reminders:

  • Please enter and exit only through the Main entrance door and use your key fob. The purpose of entering in one location is to ensure each member of the community is temperature checked. The purpose of one exit is to ensure we are aware of how many community members are in the building at one given time which is a state of Illinois reporting requirement we must comply with when there are COVID cases.
  • Please be reminded that colleagues and/or students who receive a positive test will be put in touch with a member of the Contact Tracing Team who will work with the individual and the Kane County Health Department to monitor their health status. The health department determines the date of return based on the presence of symptoms and other factors.
  • Please be reminded that beginning this weekend a few more precautions are in place, likely through October 1, based on COVID-19 projections. We will make adjustments based on community health and prioritize approaches that reduce health risk. Given the rising concerns about the Delta variant, outside visitors will be restricted with most events, including a large admissions event, being virtual. Also, trips home for students will be limited where exceptional circumstances are reviewed by the president. We have noticed a majority of our COVID cases are a result of being in direct contact with family members or friends outside the IMSA community. This is a temporary extra layer of proactive mitigation in order to ensure our community is healthy and IMSA can continue an in-person environment. Please submit any exemption requests to Dr. Glazer for review on this form no later than September 9. Students who leave campus without prior permission will not be allowed to return to campus until permission is granted by the president or his designee.
  • Please be reminded that the student sign out/sign in process has been amended. Parents/guardians are asked to enter the residence hall only for the purpose of signing students out to depart campus. Upon return, parents/guardians should refrain from entering the residence halls and drop students off curbside. Students should report directly to the RC office to sign in. If parents need to use the restroom, they may do so in the main building.

In addition, a list of refinements recommended by the Monitoring Committee and approved by Cabinet include the following:

    • Allowing students to visit other hall common spaces with permission from their RC and after the RC calls the other hall to confirm there is appropriate capacity available. Students are still not permitted in wings other than their own.

With the COVID pandemic potentially taking a turn for the worse, it is critical that our mitigation protocols are strictly followed, so we can prevent the spread as well as closure of campus. The following items have been put into place:

        • Only IMSA students and colleagues are permitted at indoor athletic competitions at IMSA.  External spectators for indoor athletic competitions are encouraged to watch via livestream. All spectators are permitted with masks and physical distancing for outdoor athletic competitions.

Infringements upon the mitigation and safety protocols in place as outlined in the Return to Learn and Work Plan will result in the following:

Students
      • First offense: Students are notified of the violation and redirected to the correct behavior. Parents/guardians are notified via phone or email. A letter is emailed to the student and the parent to acknowledge the violation.
      • Second offense: A letter is emailed to the student and the parent with a scheduled disciplinary hearing date and time. If found responsible, a Tier II-A violation will be on the student’s disciplinary record and appropriate sanctions will be imposed, up to and including a warning, social probation, reflections and/or apology letter.
      • Third offense: If found responsible, a Tier II-B violation will be on the student’s disciplinary record and appropriate sanctions will be imposed, up to and including up to a 3-day out-of-school suspension and other sanctions, as outlined above.

I would like to recognize members of the Return to Learn and Work Committee and publicly acknowledge them by thanking them for their time and dedication to our health and safety monitoring work:

      • Angela Rowley, Center for Teaching and Learning
      • Angie Shoener, Health Office
      • Chris Kornsey, Facilities
      • Connie Villa, Security
      • Dana Ginnett, Student Affairs
      • Evan Glazer, President
      • Joe Mastrocola, Human Resources
      • Sandy Shackelford, PAC
      • Michael Hancock, IMSA Council/Faculty
      • Michelle Bemis, Strategy Office
      • Rich Busby, Project Management Office
      • Robyn Norton, IMSA Council/RCs
      • Connie James-Jenkin, Principal’s Office

Thanks also to you, our families, for your support of our health and safety mitigation efforts intended to keep the IMSA Community well.

Be well,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

September 1, 2021

Dear IMSA Students and Families,

I hope you have enjoyed the start to the school year. It has been delightful to see students and colleagues in person with our wide variety of health and safety mitigation measures. I hope you watched this welcome video, which has a fun math rap, and so far I’ve personally enjoyed helping students with math questions throughout the campus. On August 23, we launched the year with Convocation, featuring school-spirited remarks from our Student Council President, Jakob Bachhausen ‘22, personal reflections from alumnae Lacey Thomas ‘08 (keynote speaker) and a performance from Neil Wary ‘18. This past weekend, I hope you had a chance to participate in our annual Carnival, with fun-filled games and rides, and if you’re like my children, you also had your face painted.

I imagine most of you are keeping an eye on tighter COVID regulations across the state, first with mask wearing in schools and now mask wearing in indoor settings. Professionals in schools are now required to get the vaccine. This is in response to the growth in the Delta variant of COVID-19 cases.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation offers helpful data that illustrate trends and projections. You can see from this graphic we are at a pivotal point where conditions can become much worse if additional proactive measures are not put in place.

Therefore, IMSA will also now alter its approach in an effort to maintain a healthy community and in-person learning. First, under the guidance of the Kane County Department of Health, during the month of September, we will conduct a COVID test for all community members on campus twice a week, regardless of vaccination status. While unvaccinated community members have been testing positive more frequently, we have also seen vaccinated community members also test positive. Since we have been undergoing surveillance screening, we have been detecting COVID with little to no symptoms; simply put, it’s not obvious when someone is a carrier. Right now, this is manageable with a positive rate below 1%, however it can get worse without proper intervention. It is imperative you share with us when a family member tests positive, particularly if that should occur during Labor Day and your student is at home. For those students identified as close contacts, those students should remain at home and will be given access to classrooms remotely.

We have noticed a majority of COVID cases are a result of being in direct contact with family members or friends outside the IMSA community. Therefore, we will institute a few more precautions in the coming month. First, as you return from the Labor Day extended weekend, we are asking all students to remain within their hall upon their return and not visit other halls. On Monday, access to the main building will be limited to ensure students are within their own residence hall groups while studying and dining. We will conduct COVID testing the next day to verify health status. Second, we will begin restricting trips home after Labor Day. The worst case trend right now shows a national COVID case peak at the end of September with conditions improving in October, however we will evaluate week to week and adjust our protocols based on improvements in community health. I recognize this is not a desirable situation for students and families as they wish to have access to family time and home cooking. And, at the same time, I hope you recognize we must put some controls in place to limit potential spread and maintain learning in person. Recognizing the impact on potential personal needs, we will offer some accommodations. Families can arrange to see their children on campus if they first check-in with security, meet with their child outside, stay on campus, wear masks and are not in range of other students. In addition, families can request an exemption to check out their student if they have previously arranged a medical appointment or another significant need that is non-social in nature. Please submit any exemption requests to me for review on this form no later than September 9, and note our preference is the off-campus appointment is short term. While we are on campus, our Residential Life and School Leadership teams will work closely with students to keep them engaged in a safe manner.

I appreciate your cooperation and understanding during this pivotal time during the pandemic, a time when we can find the light at the end of the tunnel if we put all mitigation measures in place. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or ideas to support our efforts.

Titans Together,

Dr. Evan M. Glazer
President

August 30, 2021

Dear Families,

Last Friday, I sent a note about sending you weekly community transmission updates and refinements to the Return to Learn and Work Plan (RLWP) based on community health and feedback from the Monitoring Committee.

At this time, we do not have RLWP refinements to report because the Monitoring Committee will meet for the first time this week.

However, we have a COVID transmission report. For the week ending August 27, 937 COVID tests were performed. 933 tests were negative and four were positive. The positivity rate was 0.4%. As a reminder, we will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information. No close contacts of the positive cases were excluded from learning and working. Visit the Community Transmission Dashboard for weekly test data.

With regard to testing, we encountered a system error last week with the SHIELD test administered by the University of Illinois and are pleased to share that our BinX Now Antigen test method served successfully as our backup. The system error has been corrected and SHIELD testing will resume today. Also beginning today, as an added layer of precaution against the Delta variant, we will test all colleagues and students, regardless of vaccination status, twice a week for the next 28 days. 

In our positive COVID cases thus far, we are noticing most are from unvaccinated individuals who have been a direct contact from someone who tested positive in their home or a personal friend outside of IMSA. We are fortunate that our COVID screening identifies individuals rather quickly to prevent further spread.  However, we must insist that everyone report illness among family members and friends that you have seen recently, so we can take additional precautions before returning to campus. Please contact the Health Office at nurse@imsa.edu in those situations.

We also want to share with you that our health partner, Kane County Health Department, has directed us that unvaccinated students who have been identified as a close contact will be subject to additional testing and will be unable to participate from extra-curricular activities, including athletics, for 14 days regardless of a negative test.

As a reminder, getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best mitigation approach to community health, and vaccinated students without symptoms will not need to quarantine when they are in close contact with a person who tests positive. On that note, we want to share how proud we are of the IMSA Community and the high vaccination rates of 85% for students and 80% for colleagues as reported the first week of school. We are preparing to distribute “Vax Up Titans” t-shirts to those students and colleagues who have been vaccinated.

Thank you for your support of our health and safety mitigation efforts intended to keep the IMSA Community well.

Titans Together,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

August 25, 2021

Dear Families,

I wanted to share with you a communication cadence you can expect around COVID-19 mitigation and safety measures, community transmission and refinements to the Return to Learn and Work Plan based on feedback and community health conditions.

Each Monday, I will send an email to families with two updates: A COVID-19 summary from the prior week; and adjustments to the initial Return to Learn and Work Plan based on changes to community health, CDC guidelines and input from the Monitoring Committee which will have representation from faculty, resident counselors, parents and staff.  We will not distinguish faculty, staff and students in our reporting, or share the names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 according to privacy laws governing the use of health information. Additionally, we will provide a link to the public facing web page that shares weekly transmission rates.

Students will be notified directly if they have been identified as a close contact to someone who tested positive, and the corresponding course of action. Certainly, any student who needs to have a parent pick them up to quarantine at home will be notified as soon as possible. As a reminder, getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best mitigation approach to community health, and vaccinated students without symptoms will not need to quarantine when they are in close contact with a person who tests positive. In addition, we will notify faculty directly whenever there are students in a class who need remote learning accommodations whenever they are not permitted to be on school grounds as a result of health reasons.

My hope is that clear, frequent communication regarding adaptations to the Return to Learn and Work Plan and community transmission of COVID-19 will serve to keep our community safe and healthy.

Titans Together,

Tami J. Armstrong, M.A.
Interim Chief Strategy Officer

July 30, 2021

Dear IMSA Families,

It gives me great pleasure to share the IMSA United Return to Learn and Work Plan with the IMSA community. This valuable guidance is intended to provide students, families and colleagues with clear and consistent expectations as IMSA looks toward welcoming everyone back to campus in the coming weeks. I would like to thank our Return to Learning and Working Committee which included diverse voices from the community. They have been working actively through the spring to build upon our previous re-opening efforts to account for updated health policies from the CDC and IDPH.

Our plan outlines extensive mitigation measures we are taking to protect the health and safety of our students. We’ve been fortunate to run some of our summer programs on campus to test out many of our mitigation efforts, and it feels great to reconnect with students and teachers in person. You can help us right now by getting vaccinated, as that will support our community health efforts. Since students can travel home on weekends, parents are encouraged to get vaccinated, too.

We recognize there will be questions that aim for more clarity on our health and safety measures and adjustments that will need to take place starting in August. To that end, IMSA will host Return to Learn Q&A Sessions for parents and students on August 5 from 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and on August 9 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. featuring frequently asked questions about our plans and an opportunity to ask live questions.


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Call into August 5 Q & A Session: Meeting ID: 993 6415 7526, Call: +13126266799,,99364157526# US

Call into August 9 Q & A Session: Meeting ID: 919 3606 8227, Call: +13126266799,,91936068227# US


The plan goes into effect on Monday, August 2, 2021. Careful attention will be given to realigning guidance continuously based on a safe reopening, the health and well being of the IMSA community and the progress of community health conditions. We will also use your questions as a guide to refine the plan in an effort to make it comprehensive. Announcements and updates related to changes to IMSA’s guidance can be found on the Return to Learn and Work Plan web page.

On a personal note, I want to invite you to visit my webpage where you can learn about me and have access to my communications. I invite you to submit fun questions that can be shared with the community so we can get to know each other better. With our safety measures in place, I look forward to re-igniting that sense of community that makes IMSA feel like home, and look forward to engaging in and supporting one another’s transition back so that a deep sense of belonging can be found on campus again.

Titans Together,

Dr. Evan M. Glazer
President