Three administrative employees in Proviso Township High Schools District 209 have tested positive for COVID-19, a district spokesperson confirmed on Nov. 6. All three employees work at Proviso East High School, but they are not teachers, she said.
“Yes, we do have three people who are currently out with COVID-19 positive results and those people who were in contact with them have been notified of possible exposure,” said Nicole Wilson, the district’s communications director.
She said that since the school year started, seven D209 employees have been infected with COVID-19 — three from Proviso West, three from Proviso East and one from Proviso Math and Science Academy. None, she said, have been teachers.
Wilson said that employees are “encouraged to [self-report] when they have symptoms, as part of our daily health check screener,” which is a phone app. “[The app] asks if you’ve tested positive in the past 14 days, if you’ve traveled or had worsening cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat and other symptoms. We encourage employees to report those symptoms, follow-up with appropriate healthcare experts to determine next steps.”
Wilson said that once the district is aware of positive cases, it starts the process of contact tracing, in order to find out who, if any, other people have been in contact with the infected individual.
The announcement comes after D209 Supt. James Henderson ordered roughly 300 teachers to return to classes at all three D209 campuses on Oct. 20. The teachers have since been providing virtual instruction to students from smart boards inside of empty classrooms.
In a press release, the Proviso Teachers’ Union said Henderson’s decision “was in direct violation of an agreement signed in August by the superintendent and the union, which allows teachers to provide instruction from remote locations while students are not in the buildings.”
The union said that heat at Proviso East is not working, “and temperatures in some rooms were reported to be as low as 56 degrees,” according to previous reporting. The union said that East and West “have inadequate hot water for hand washing and cleaning” and a lack of available PPE. They also claimed that rooms were not sanitized while the district closed buildings from March through October.
Wilson emphasized that no teachers have tested positive for COVID-19 since returning to classrooms last month, and that the district has an adequate supply of PPE. She added that everyone is required to wear a mask in the buildings.
“If they don’t have a mask, they are provided a mask and we continue to disinfect and sanitize our spaces,” Wilson said. “Gloves are also available to those who ask for gloves.”
More as this story develops.