Glenbrook Dist. 225 board passes COVID testing plan on second vote
We've seen some strange things over the past 20 months. Here's another.
The Glenbrook High Schools District 225 on Monday put forth a motion that failed, however temporarily.
A rarity for the board under President Bruce Doughty and Vice President Peter Glowacki, a 3-3 vote initially tabled a plan to test unvaccinated students and staff after Halloween, Thanksgiving and winter and spring breaks, with those vaccinated highly encouraged to get tested but able to opt out.
The full proposal, which also included options to maintain the status quo or introduce expanded testing should COVID-19 transmission metrics increase, initially was brought to the board for discussion without a vote on Oct. 12.
Currently, Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South students in high-risk activities and staff must either have submitted proof of a COVID vaccination to their school or take weekly SHIELD tests.
Symptomatic employees and students are offered the SHIELD test and directed to stay home until a negative result is achieved.
Those who are nonsymptomatic and vaccinated may voluntarily take the test offered at the District 225 Administration Building; unvaccinated students exposed to the virus undergo "test to stay" in school protocol.
The three board members who dissented on Monday urged a repeat of the full baseline testing of all students, vaccinated and unvaccinated, similar to what happened back in August.
They also weren't keen on people opting out of testing, and initially neither was a board member who voted "Yes," Matt O'Hara. Board member Michelle Seguin was unable to attend the meeting.
"I do not favor opt out. Your choice is someone else's illness ... To me, the general health of the building and organization is of greater importance than individual choice," said board member Skip Shein, former District 225 president from 2009-19.
"As far as the remedy, you don't come to school, as simple as that. I want to make the building safe. To me, it's no different from there are no weapons in school. There are no exceptions to that," Shein said.
Board member Dr. Marcelo Sztainberg also believed students who opted out of testing should stay home.
Less than 50 people opted out of the baseline testing done in August, Superintendent Dr. Charles Johns stated early in the meeting. In a large increase over the numbers presented Oct. 12, 69% of district students have submitted proof of vaccination, he said.
Johns reminded the board that denying parents an opt-out for their students would likely draw legal rebuke, and also noted that the Cook County Department of Public Health did not advise testing vaccinated people due to a possibility of false-positive results.
Failing after being put to a vote, the plan went back for further negotiation.
The fix was simple and produced a 6-0 vote and passage of the motion.
"I think we need to test everybody and I'm willing to be flexible with the opt-out. We can drop that part for now but I think we need to have a baseline like we did the first time," Sztainberg said.
Fellow dissenters Shein and Joel Taub each accepted parental opt-outs -- for now, they said -- with both unvaccinated and unvaccinated people encouraged to take the SHIELD test.
Dr. R.J. Gravel, District 225 associate superintendent, was tasked with sending an email survey to families with an option not to take the test.
The date stated at the meeting was Nov. 2 so results could be returned by Nov. 4 and findings discussed at the board's Nov. 8 meeting.
"All students will go through testing at assigned times, unless they opt out," Gravel summarized.