Cook Country Vaccine Mandate Information- Updated Dec 31, 2021

Dear Friends,

The United States, Illinois and Cook County are in the early stages of a large surge of COVID cases due to the Omicron variant. On December 23, Cook County Department of Public Health issued Mitigation Order 2021-11 to protect the health of the public in suburban Cook County. This order impacts participation at the River Trails Park District.

Here at The River Trails Park District, the health and wellness of our employees and patrons continues to be a top priority as we continue to navigate the pandemic. The recent mandate by Cook County is challenging for staff at all levels and as a team we are doing our best to make sure our community is safe within our programs and facilities. We strive to respect all views and look to find ways to continue to provide opportunities to enrich the lives of our diverse community.

We understand this is an adjustment for all and much of our winter 2022 session begins the weeks of January 3rd and 10th. The Cook County mitigation order will place restrictions on a variety of programs and facilities where individuals will need to be fully vaccinated in order to participate. Please understand, we are giving youth ages 5-12 years an extension to accommodate for the late 2021 access to the vaccine since the window of access for them was unrealistically short. This was also in hopes that in the near future, the Cook County mandates would either be reduced or rescinded. The District has identified February 20th as the extension timeframe, this allows approximately seven weeks to get vaccinated, mandates to change and/or potentially gain additional direction from our General Counsel and Insurance carriers which would allow for us to change course with our procedures and policies concerning Covid.

Here is a short (not exhaustive) list of programs in which the vaccine verification does not apply:

  • Trailblazers Preschool
  • Kid Squad Before and After School Care
  • Early Childhood and Youth Enrichment
  • Youth Dance Classes
  • Adult Painting
  • Spring Camp and Hit the Trails

Based on the current mandate, any youth sports or fitness program for those age 5 and older will eventually require vaccination verification if it is being held in a park district facility.

Why are some programs eligible to participate and other not under the Cook County mandate? The mandate in respect to Park District is centered around activities which increase the heart and exhalation rates when around others. This is why sports and fitness activities are deemed a focal point by Cook County. We understand there may be some inconsistencies and we are seeking legislative action to hopefully address elements of the mandate.

Please visit this link for the Cook County information:  https://cookcountypublichealth.org/communicable-diseases/covid-19/mitigation-guidance

Patrons planning an event (e.g. birthday party) at one of our facilities will be required to certify that all attendees have provided proof of vaccination. An updated rider will be added to current and future rental agreements outlining the responsibility of the event organizer

Please be courteous with our team as they are requesting this information as part of program and facility participation as mandated by Cook County. As a reminder Masks are still required inside any of our facilities and programs.

While patrons should anticipate having to show proof of vaccination in the coming weeks this will not start on Monday, January 3, 2022 in RTPD facilities. Additional information with specific procedures will follow shortly. Knowing this, it is also critical that we are 100% compliant with masks which are required inside any of our facilities and programs in the public spaces (e.g. hallways, gym, program spaces, restrooms, etc.).

We do not profess to know all the answers during this stressful time and we 100% understand your individual concerns, frustrations and stresses. Please understand that we are working hard to best serve you as well as maintain everyone’s health and wellness while in our facilities and programs.

If you have any questions, contact us at info@rtpd.org or 847-255-1200

Local, county, state and CDC guidance and regulations change frequently. The River Trails Park District is monitoring and following all guidance provided by the health experts and epidemiologists. We will continue to review and evaluate the mitigation guidance being provided by Cook County Department of Health and communicate updates as we have them. When guidance and requirements change, the River Trails Park District may need time to fully review and communicate any changes to patrons and staff.

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