Return to School Plan – 2020-21

COVID-19 Data*: Updated May 11, 2021

  • Number of active COVID-19 cases in our school district: FOUR (4) 
    • This is a net decrease of 1 case from previous update (4/21/21)
    • Active cases are required to isolate
  • Number of school-related close contacts: THREE (3)  
    • This is a net decrease of 9 close contacts from previous update (4/21/21) 
    • Close contacts are required to follow our quarantine protocol
  • There are currently 0-4 active cases across each of our grade levels 
  • If you are not contacted, you/your child has NOT met the close contact criteria and are NOT required to quarantine

Plan Materials:

Current Items:

On-Site Point of Care COVID-19: Testing Overview in Gower:

“On-site testing is a part of the solution. It’s certainly not the only answer and although it may not be a fit everywhere, this process is actionable, replicable and scalable to fit any district ready to press ‘go’. On-site diagnostic testing is something that we have been willing and able to do to continue to take steps forward and make a positive impact during a challenging time. We understand the importance of being able to identify COVID-19 infections quickly in an effort to help control the spread of the virus. Our testing program is now recognized as part of a more comprehensive community-based solution. We are sharing some of the tremendous load that has been and continues to be placed on our health care system and we expect to continue to be able to do so for the foreseeable future. Community Problems Require Community Solutions. – Dr. Victor Simon


We’re in This Together! 

Since building and launching our on-site testing program in October, Gower School District has worked to help other school districts bring various forms of testing solutions to their communities. Being able to quickly identify and isolate cases through point of care, diagnostic testing is a huge benefit to our school community. A number of school districts are following our lead and attempting to bring diagnostic testing and/or screening to their districts. We are aware that other districts have started or are considering a COVID-19 surveillance programs for their districts. To be clear, our testing program is not surveillance-based and it does not depend on an outside lab or analysis. We have diagnostic capabilities at each of our schools and are using rapid antigen tests (nasal swabs) to determine if the SARS-CoV-2 virus is detected or not in about 15 minutes.

Our program is absolutely scalable and replicable for others and may just be the perfect next step for schools looking for a way to expand in-person learning. Feel free to share with friends/family in other school districts that may be unaware of the program we have in place. We have made an effort to make our work public through our Return to School webpage and have provided full access to every part of the process, including tips, key learnings, and copies of our original documents. The early success of our program is testament to the hard work and dedication of the Gower staff and community and we are happy to share and help as many other school districts as we can. As we know first-hand in Gower, Community Problems Require Community Solutions.


To summarize the testing options currently available in Gower:

  • All of the point-of-care COVID-19 tests offered at Gower are administered free of charge. Strategic and responsible use of school funding, including additional federal funds received as a response to the global pandemic, allows our program to be offered as an added benefit to our school community. 
  • The Antigen Tests being used in Gower (AccessBio CareStart or Abbott BinaxNow) are rapid, point-of-care tests for any symptomatic staff or student (via parent consent), and/or close contacts that opt to take it. Parents that have selected a remote learning option are able to contact their respective school office and schedule a time for an antigen test to be administered. Additional antigen screening usage (symptomatic individuals and/or known close contacts) is also being carried out on a limited basis. Antigen tests are best used shortly after the onset of symptoms and do have limitations involving asymptomatic cases. However, as an extra precaution, individuals (students or staff) identified as a close contact to a school case are also able to request an antigen test as we understand the importance of being able to identify positive cases quickly and follow subsequent IDPH Exclusion Guidelines. Furthermore, the recent CDC Guidance for Expanded Screening Testing to Reduce Silent Spread of SARS-CoV-2 are clear that K-12 school settings are to be considered for increased testing from a screening perspective that may include asymptomatic individuals in areas of high community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • The Antibody Tests being used at Gower are rapid, point-of-care tests are generally used to detect a past COVID-19 infection and not used to diagnose a current infection. They are being offered to all staff for one-time evaluation or for more regular screenings. These tests are also being offered to students (via parent consent) that have previously been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have completed their period of isolation (post-infection). 
  • COMMUNITY TESTING: We offer drive-up COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Testing each Tuesday at Gower West and each Thursday at Gower Middle from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m at the school main entrance (Door #1). Tests are available to all members of the Gower School Community (students, parents, friends/family, neighbors, former graduates, etc.) free of charge, and are being used as part of a diagnostic (symptomatic individuals) and screening (asymptomatic and/or known close contact) approach. This is a proactive and added measure that we are taking to best support and serve our school community. It does not replace, in any way, the important relationship that any of our families have with their primary healthcare provider. No appointment is necessary and our School Nurses will administer the tests directly at the vehicle window. Results from the nasal swab rapid antigen tests are available in ~15 minutes. 

Deprivatizing our practice and sharing what we have learned:


Gower has gone a step further to completely deprivatize the practice used by sharing all documents/templates, key learnings, and important takeaways and considerations from our Superintendent, Dr. Victor Simon, for public consumption. Contact vsimon@gower62.com directly to inquiry about putting the IDPH guidelines into action. Items are shared with no claim of importance or accuracy beyond a willingness to deprivatize our practice and share some of our successes and promising practices. The process is replicable and scalable and can be turned around, from start to finish in a matter of a 2-3 weeks depending on how aggressive of a timeline is followed. 


Sharing our work (weblinks):

*COVID-19 spread is not limited to school district boundaries which is why it is important to be mindful of individual actions and responsibilities that could have a greater impact on the larger community. Our ‘dashboard’ for current COVID-19 data is updated based on cases reported to district officials as well as cases that are identified through our on-site testing program. We report every known case to the DuPage County Health Dept. and carry out contact tracing to determine who, if anyone, was a school-related close contact and needs to be quarantined accordingly. Prior to May 11, 2021 individual cases and updated information was shared and archived through our Community Newsletters. We understand that local ‘dashboards’ give some indication of currently known cases and recognize that they fall short of being able to capture community data as well as the following two examples do. 


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District Together