District 220 decides not to accelerate reopening
Barrington Area Unit District 220 will not modify its reopening plan but instead will continue all-virtual learning for the foreseeable future, a move endorsed by its teachers union despite a push to reopen from some parents and some school board members.
"Please understand that while we had hoped to return to hybrid on Monday, Nov. 16, the safety of our students and staff must remain our top priority as the virus continues to spread within our community and surrounding communities," an email from the district Thursday reads.
The district will continue to follow its five-metric plan for reopening schools, officials say.
The metrics are based on guidance from the Lake County Department of Public Health, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Three school board members said last week they wanted to move away from the metrics and reopen schools as soon as possible.
The topic was discussed at a meeting Monday that included school administrators, two school board members, the Barrington Education Association, which represents teachers, and the Barrington School District Employee Organization, which represents educational support professionals.
The school board met in closed session Wednesday evening to discuss the topic.
School board President Penny Kazmier said the duty to provide the best education possible for students includes ensuring their safety.
"The metrics that we have in place, I am comfortable with those. Until the health departments or the CDC make some adjustments, I have to rely on those experts. That's where my comfort level is."
Melissa Atteberry, president of the Barrington Education Association teachers union, said the vast majority of its 715 or so members don't want to eliminate any of the five reopening metrics, particularly given the current surge of COVID-19 cases across the region.
"We understand this is difficult for parents and for students. It's difficult for staff and the whole community," Atteberry said earlier this week.
"We look to the health care professionals ... for guidance for when it's safe for staff to rejoin school buildings," she said. "We are not advocating for one model or another, but we are advocating for safe teaching conditions for our teachers and our students."
Charles Parkinson, president of the Barrington School District Employee Organization, declined to comment.
Under the current metrics, to return to hybrid learning the district would need to have 50 to 200 cases per 100,000 people in the last 14 days; a positivity rate of 8% to 9.999% in the last 14 days; PPE and sanitation supplies for one month; and 90% of licensed and nonlicensed staff able to return to school.
The district is located mostly in the Barrington area but also includes parts of Carpentersville, Fox River Grove and Hoffman Estates.
On Thursday, Barrington had an 11% positivity rate with 773.9 new cases per 100,000, and Carpentersville had a 21.72% positivity rate and 1252.8 new cases per 100,000 in the last 14 days, according to Northwestern University's COVID-19 dashboard.
The district's current reopening metrics are less stringent than those initially established in September, reflecting updated public health guidance.