OPUSD staff member tests positive for COVID-19

District announces the first confirmed case since July


Photo Courtesy of Vincent Ghilione

An Oak Park Unified School District staff member had tested positive for COVID-19, the first confirmed case in Oak Park since July 2020.

In a virtual board meeting live-streamed via YouTube on Sept. 15, Special Safety and Equity Counselor Holly Baxter announced that an Oak Park Unified School District staff member had tested positive for COVID-19, the first confirmed case in Oak Park since July 2020.

Due to their confidentiality, the district is not able to state the identity of the afflicted staff member. However, according to Baxter, the staff member was not present on the campus and was only working from home. Baxter, who is also in charge of OPUSD’s COVID-19 safety protocols, states there was no further transmission of the virus. 

“We do carefully track any staff members who become ill or receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis,” Baxter wrote to the Talon. 

Staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not encouraged to work for the duration of their illness. According to Baxter, they are recommended to consult with their doctor, determine if they are able to continue their duties, and then take action as their doctor deems fit. Similarly, staff members whose duties require them to be on campus would be required to stay home and self-quarantine.

Staff members who are unable to work due to illness with COVID-19 will still receive pay.

“Any staff member who is affected by COVID-19 illness, symptoms, or quarantine qualifies for income,” Baxter wrote. “This is qualified through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enforced by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, requires certain employers to pay their employees with paid sick leave, or expanded family and medical leave, for specified reasons related to COVID-19. This act will be effective through Dec. 31, 2020. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19. 

The district has set up contact tracing protocols that alert any staff member who may have come into contact with an infected individual on their campuses. Every staff member, visitor or student who comes onto any of the campuses completes a health screening upon their arrival; the screening result is also entered into a log for tracking purposes. 

“If we have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, any person who was potentially exposed is alerted,” Baxter wrote. “Close contacts to the infected individual are required to quarantine and provide a negative test result before returning to campus.”

OPUSD has put in place many COVID-19 safety protocols to avoid the transmission of this deadly virus, and as stated above, continue to closely monitor anyone who has the slightest trace of illness or a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. 

“This has been the only positive test result that we’ve had since July,” Baxter wrote. “We’re doing very well in keeping those things contained.”