District 116 to stick with remote learning for now

Updated 10/19/2020 7:16 PM

Round Lake Area Unit District 116 will not be returning to in-person learning any time soon.

School officials confirmed on Monday that the district does not have an established date for returning. Superintendent Donn Mendoza said school leaders are assessing the risks of reopening now that they have more information.


"I think we're in a better place now than we were at the end of July in terms of making informed decisions," Mendoza said.

Officials said the biggest obstacle for reopening has been the increase of positive cases in the Round Lake area. As of Oct. 16, the rate of positive results on COVID-19 tests for ZIP code 60076 was 8.51%, far above the threshold set for reopening schools.

Lake County Health Department guidelines say full reopening should occur only when a school has positivity rates of 5% or lower for 10 straight days. Hybrid learning, a blend of in-person and remote classes, should occur only if the positivity rate is below 8% for 10 straight days, District 116 says on its website.

Additionally, the number of cases is too high to reopen schools, officials said. Cases have been at 14 per 100,000 people for at least five days in a row, compared to a goal of half that before in-person learning should resume.

Ten percent of the 935 confirmed cases in the ZIP code are among people age 20 or younger. Director of Engagement Heather Bennett said the district has had three students and two faculty members test positive in recent weeks.

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The school district has been hosting focus groups via Zoom for parents who want to discuss the pandemic's effect on their children's education.

"Creating this type of outreach could certainly serve to benefit parents as individuals but also may spark some ideas of how they can better support their children during the pandemic," Bennett said.

Elsewhere in the suburbs, Barrington Area Unit District 220 moved from remote to hybrid learning Monday.

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