Heritage Middle School employee contracts COVID-19, no ‘prolonged close contact’ with others

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Heritage Middle School
Heritage Middle School is located at 19250 Burnham Avenue, Lansing, IL. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
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by Jim Masters

LANSING, Ill. (September 3, 2021) – A Heritage Middle School employee tested positive for COVID-19 this week, but the exposure is an isolated incident according to school officials, and school is proceeding normally, albeit with students and staff masked as they have been since the start of the school year.

Dr. Erika Millhouse-Pettis, Superintendent of Sunnybrook School District 171, sent a letter to Heritage parents and staff on September 2 advising them of the COVID-19 infection and measures the district is taking to mitigate any potential exposures.

In the letter, Millhouse-Pettis advised that any student or staff member who may have had “prolonged close contact” to the COVID-19 case would be placed in 14-day quarantine and would receive notification from the Cook County Department of Public Health. In addition, the letter stated that anyone that may have had “close contact” to the staff member who tested positive would receive a separate communication.

The good news is that no one has been determined to have had prolonged or close contact with the individual, Millhouse-Pettis told The Lansing Journal on Friday. Therefore, no one was in quarantine other than the individual who tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of contact with the infected individual, she said that the Heritage community had a right to know the situation.

“Safety has become my obsession lately,” she said. “It’s a sensitive topic and rightfully so.”

She added that a parent could expect a phone call from District 171 if it is later determined their child had potential exposure to the virus.

Millhouse-Pettis said the vast majority of District 171 employees are vaccinated but declined to say whether the employee who tested positive was vaccinated.

“I am very proud of our staff because at this point 92% of our employees are vaccinated,” she said. “It’s not 100% of people, but they have their rights.”

District 171 will continue to monitor students and staff for signs and symptoms of illness and promptly identify any possible COVID-19 outbreaks. As such, District 171 is conducting a deep clean and disinfection of the areas impacted by potential exposure to the virus.

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