Our school district IPSD 204 has been referencing county health metrics since the pandemic began. The Dupage County Covid dashboard shows positivity, hospitalizations, rolling averages, deaths, cases by day, cases by month, cases by age...and more.
They report the data and as the following illustration proves, they are not policy-makers.
When much of the WORLD has established a semblance of normalcy and advancement beyond lockdowns and restrictions, our community continues to let undefined metrics guide policy. Case in point (it's regarding mask mandates, but my question is trying to ascertain the department's ability to give our community some statistical clarity):
For a properly defined metric on any mandate, policy, or guidance, shouldn't our local county health department be Johnny-on-the-spot with an answer? Apparently, that is asking too much. Yes, it is too much for an agency that our school district-the 4th largest in Illinois-has relied on during what is arguably, the most challenging period it its entire governing history. It is quite clear that our county health department has no problem seeing our 922,000+ population just wait until some magic number decides to pop into their heads.
If this town hall took place in April 2020, the allowance for a non-answer would pass. February 2021? No. The big picture? The fog of pandemic war has lifted. Yet, our community leadership continues perpetuating fear and misinformation. We have to stop thinking of these health departments as policy-makers. Our elected leadership establishes the policies from the Governor to the Mayor to the IPSD 204 Board of Education.
Question: As a parent, as a district staffer, as a district administrator, as a student, or as a board of education member, how are we to devise a prudent post-pandemic re-emergence plan when our own county health department is unable to establish a tangible metric?
Answer: We assess the data against a dynamic plethora of expert publication and defined metrics/guidance. We ascertain the benefit of any return-to-school plan that embraces the standard mitigation methods against the diminished academic rigor and enrichment of remote learning. Period.
While I appreciate the Mayor and Dupage County representative taking the time to speak on this issue, any observer's takeaway is not the type of enlightenment this platform otherwise intended. If you can't define a metric, admit it and encourage the community to devise their own best practices and guidelines. Let our great republic move on with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...and every educational opportunity our students serve.