COVID & School Program Status information

Fall 2021 - TCS Overview
of Protocols for Covid-19

This overview--written with guidance and input from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and State of Illinois, Village of Oak Park Health Department, our own Health Advisory Committee, faculty and staff--represents our best thinking at the current moment. We know that the COVID landscape is still changing and that we will need to continue to be flexible and vigilant in monitoring and responding to new information throughout this school year. Thank you in advance for your patience and your commitment to working with us to provide a safe and productive learning environment for students, teachers and staff.


  • We will require indoor masking for all (vaccinated or unvaccinated) students, faculty, staff, and anyone else who enters the building.


  • Outdoor masking for students, faculty, and staff will be required at teachers’ discretion. During times when students, especially younger students, are playing closely together for an extended period, teachers and students will wear masks. During times when students are able to maintain 3-6 feet of distance, teachers and students will not wear masks outdoors.


  • We will maintain distance of 3-6 feet between all people when possible, while still allowing students to be closer than 3 feet at times for limited periods of important academic or social interaction.


  • We will maintain cohorts within Pond (K-2), Lake (3-5), and Ocean (6-8). 


  • We will discontinue temperature checks as they have not proven useful in diagnosing COVID cases. We will continue using multiple doors for arrival and checking in with each student as they arrive.


  • We will continue to utilize frequent and thorough hand-washing/hand-sanitizing upon entering the school building, before eating, after using the restroom, and at other points in the day as needed.


  • We will continue to encourage/require all students, faculty, and staff to stay home when ill or possibly ill.


  • We will continue to spend lots of time outdoors and to keep windows open for ventilation while indoors.


  • We will limit visitors to the school building while students are present.


  • We will continue daily cleaning/disinfecting of classrooms and other spaces.


  • We will require proof of COVID vaccination for all vaccinated faculty, staff, and students. At the current time all TCS faculty and staff members, including student teachers and interns, are vaccinated.


  • We will once again ask each family to sign a Family Safety Agreement stating that you will comply with TCS and State of Illinois COVID-19 guidelines.


New this school year:

  • We are partnering with the State of Illinois to provide weekly SHIELD testing for all unvaccinated individuals. We will follow Oak Park’s quarantine guidelines.


  • We also plan to provide BINAXNow rapid antigen testing for any student, teacher, or staff member (vaccinated or unvaccinated) who shows symptoms of COVID-19.


  • We plan to offer Before and After Care beginning September 7, 2021. Please note that it is possible we may at some point need to suspend Before or After Care due to COVID transmission rates, staffing, or quarantine needs.


  • Before Care will be from 7:45-8:40 a.m. Monday thru Thursday in the school library at a cost of $8 per day. Students will be asked to read, draw, or play a quiet game and to remain 6 feet from other students not in their cohort (Pond, Lake, or Ocean). Students will not be allowed to eat or drink (except for water) during this time.


  • After Care will be provided by Kids Project, run by Ellyzabeth Adler (who has worked with TCS for over 15 years). After Care is an arts-based, pay-as-you-go program, offered from 3:15-4:30 p.m. ($15 per day) and or 3:15-6:00 p.m. ($25 per day). We will offer two cohorts of After Care, one for Pond students and one for Lake students. All TCS COVID protocols will apply during After Care.


  • On Friday afternoons, when pick-up for K-5 students will be at 12:00 at Thatcher Woods, we will offer an extended day remote afternoon for families who are not able to make a 12:00 pick-up work for their schedules. In two separate cohorts, Pond and Lake, students will be supervised by a teacher to eat lunch and then participate in their classroom’s remote and independent learning schedule for the afternoon. 

Slide Deck &  notes
from TCS Covid Info Mtg. 8.24.21

TCS Health Advisory Committee

To help us evaluate and confirm our reopening procedure, and to help us develop ways to appropriately and safely respond to Covid-19 throughout the school year, we are so grateful to have the help of our newly assembled Health Advisory Committee. The committee is comprised of TCS parents who are professionals in the medical field, and also understand the unique needs and ways of our school community.


Thank you to our Health Advisory Committee:

Michael Angarone, DO

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and Medical Education Feinberg School of Medicine


Magda Houlberg, MD, FACP

Chief Clinical Officer, Howard Brown Health


Muriel Jean-Jacques, MD Internist, Northwestern Medical Group and Assistant Professor Feinberg School of Medicine

8th Grade Documentary

on Covid-19 Pandemic

Our 2020 Murder of Crows class made a documentary on how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected community residents, local businesses, students, and teachers. They interviewed local experts, including OPRF Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Liz Holt, and Loyola University epidemiologist Dr. David Shoham, and several local business owners. During the project, they met with professional documentary filmmakers, Dan Andries and Anne Northrup, and also planned ways to promote their documentary both to and beyond the TCS community.

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The Children's School and Covid-19

Frequently Asked Questions


How will TCS let us know if Covid risks have changed and my child's program is switching to remote or back to onsite learning?

Our directors will contact every family by email should our program status change due to Covid risk mitigation factors called for by state or local authorities, or by our health advisory committee. You can also find our latest Covid Status announcements here. 

When do I need to keep my child home?

Keep your child home if they have an elevated temperature (100.4F or higher) or show any of the symptoms of COVID or any other contagious condition (i.e., pink-eye, head lice).  If in doubt it is better to keep them home.

What are the symptoms of COVID that I should watch for in my child/myself?

nown symptoms of COVID are: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

How long will I have to keep my child home? 

A student or teacher can return to TCS 10 days after onset of symptoms or after presenting a negative COVID test. 

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the attached chart.  This covers the most common scenarios. 

Download PDF of IDPH Chart in English as seen below

Download or view PDF of IDPH Chart in Spanish

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pg 2 IDPH-COVID19-Exclusion-Decison-Tree.jpg

Will TCS take my child’s temperature? 

We will discontinue morning temperature checks in Fall of 2021 as they have not proven useful in diagnosing COVID cases. We will continue using multiple doors for arrival and checking in with each student as they arrive. However, we may take a temperature as part of the information we report to you if a child is separated from the group for not feeling well.

What happens when a teacher gets sick? 

If a teacher has to stay home due to illness, one of three things will happen: 1) the class will go remote and the teacher will continue teaching, 2) we will secure a substitute teacher, or 3) if the teacher is too ill to teach and we cannot secure a substitute the class may need to be suspended until the teacher is able to return to the classroom.  Please note that in the event of teacher illness, we may be limited in our ability to use substitutes due to safety considerations around introducing new people into the school environment.

What happens if my child starts feeling poorly at school? 

They will be separated from others and we will call you to come pick them up. Please see the flow chart above for when they can return to school.   

Does my child have to wear a mask at school?

Yes. All students and adults will wear a mask while at TCS, whether or not they've been vaccinated.  Exceptions are only allowed if they can present a physician’s note indicating that they have a medical reason for being unable to wear a mask (i.e., injury; in which case they will need to wear a face shield) or if they are drinking/eating.  Snacks should be bite-sized and able to be eaten in 1 or 2 bites. 

Will there be mask breaks?

Yes. Masks may be removed during teacher-designated “mask breaks” when students are either outdoors or indoors in a designated area, spaced at least 6 feet apart, and not moving around.  

What happens if my child won't wear a mask?

Because mask-wearing is recognized as the most effective way for everyone to stay healthy, students who do/will not wear a mask will be separated from others and you will be called to come pick them up.   

Are carpools safe?

We encourage carpoolers to use a small and consistent group for carpooling.  All participants, including the driver, should wear masks and try to keep vehicle windows open to gently circulate fresh air.  

How many masks should my child bring to school? Will TCS provide any masks?

Your child should have 2 extra clean masks in a resealable bag at school each day. Please have your child practice wearing the masks to make sure they are comfortable and labeled clearly with your chlld’s name. Masks that are wet or soiled should be replaced immediately.  The school does have extra youth and adult-sized surgical masks should anyone need one. 

How do I call my child in sick?

When calling your child in due to illness, be sure to report 1) if they have been in close contact of someone with a positive COVID test, 2) have symptoms of coronavirus, or 3) have been diagnosed with COVID or influenza (respiratory flu).  Call the main office (708.484.8033).  Please leave a message if we are unable to pick up your call.  Drop off time is busy but we will get your messager.  

How will drop off and pick up work?

See the map below for the correct entrance and exit for your child's class.  Please observe proper distancing while outside, and remember to wait until your child is confirmed fever-free before leaving.

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Can my family travel (for upcoming holidays, etc.)?

Families are urged to comply with the Suburban Cook County travel guidance (updated weekly) and are required to follow
CDC travel bans/restrictions (link).  We recommend you REFRAIN from traveling to these areas two weeks prior to the start of school.  

Can my child work remotely?


We are not currently offering a separate remote program. We will offer remote learning if a child, class, or the school is put into a quarantine status due to Covid-19, or if state or local Covid conditions and subsequent guidelines require us to offer a remote program. Unfortunately, we cannot extend remote learning for other reasons such as other illnesses, missed school, travel, or family preference.

Can my child have playdates?

We urge all TCS students to play with their siblings and their friends from their class!  Please maintain safe practices such as masking, handwashing, and carefully considering the risk situations of those involved in the play date.  The more we as a community limit unsafe behavior, the more likely we are to remain in school.

What if state and local risk levels change?


TCS must comply with state and local health mandates.  If Illinois reverts to stricter Covid mitigation efforts, TCS will have to comply.  We are required to adhere to the reopening school guidelines jointly approved by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health. Our aim is to serve our students in a way that is safe for them and for teachers.

How often will classrooms be cleaned?

Classrooms will be cleaned daily by the cleaning staff.  Special attention will be given to frequently touched areas such as light switches, work areas, chair backs, door handles, bathroom stall locks, and hand railings.   Wipes and hand-sanitizer will be available in each classroom and by each school entry door.  Children will be reminded to wash their hands throughout the morning. 

Will TCS still send health alerts?


Yes, TCS will continue to send health alerts as in the past for any contagious issue that arises in a classroom.  In addition, if a student is exposed to someone with COVID-19 we will issue a health alert to that classroom and ask parents to monitor symptoms for 14 days.  If a student or teacher tests positive for COVID, we will issue a health alert to the entire school.

Are visitors allowed at TCS?

We will limit visitors to essential personnel and require visitors to follow all mask-wearing, hand-washing, cleaning/disinfecting of shared materials, and social distancing requirements while in the building.

How will bathrooms work at TCS?


Each class will have a designated bathroom for students to support the cohorting effort. For example, Kindergarten students will use the bathroom in the NW corner of the school.1st and 2nd-grade students will use the bathroom by the stairs. Lake students (3, 4, 5) will use the washroom in Room 107 (girls) or by the stairs (boys). Ocean students will continue to use the washrooms on the 2nd floor. All bathrooms will be used by a single student at a time to allow for proper social distancing. Students will sanitize hands before entering the bathroom and wash hands before leaving.