District 300 will revert to remote learning amid more COVID-19 cases in schools
With rising COVID-19 cases, Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 is suspending in-person learning and will move back to fully remote instruction starting Nov. 2 through the Thanksgiving holiday, officials said Wednesday.
The decision stems from an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in classrooms after just six days of in-person classes for students in kindergarten through third grade.
Four district classrooms have been closed and converted to remote learning due to exposure events. One classroom was closed for an outbreak -- defined as two confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections occurring within 14 calendar days among individuals in the same classroom, team or club.
As of Oct. 26, the Illinois Department of Public Health defined five or more linked cases in a school as an outbreak that would result in a school closure.
"We have had to quarantine 202 students for being identified as 'close contacts' with another COVID-19 positive individual (student or staff member). We are currently monitoring nine school buildings for possible outbreak events," Superintendent Fred Heid wrote in a message to parents. "At this time, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that COVID-19 events are rising within our student population."
On Tuesday, the District 300 school board approved the criteria and process for making decisions about changes to in-person instruction based on a thorough analysis of health department metrics -- incidence rate, test positivity rate, COVID-19-related hospitalizations, new cases and count of youth cases -- as well as student COVID-19 cases and any impact to the ability to staff schools.
Since Oct. 16, the district has had 59 COVID-19-related events involving elementary teachers, of which 35 are in-person teachers who no longer can teach from the building each day.
"These events are also impacting our school administrative teams as we now have three building principals and one assistant principal in quarantine at this time," Heid said. "Our school teams have done an amazing job backfilling these positions, but we are quickly exhausting our resources and have reached a point where confirmed COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 related events are beginning to adversely impact our ability to deliver in-person instruction."
Starting Nov. 2, students in kindergarten through fifth-grade will revert to their original teachers and schedules for the first quarter, with the exception of Fridays. Students will spend Monday through Thursday learning remotely with synchronous instruction from 8 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. On Fridays, they will have a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, self-contained special education classes and Oak Ridge School in Carpentersville will continue with their current in-person schedules and model. Middle or high school students who need additional support will start in person Nov. 9.
Half-day preschool students will return to the split in-person attendance schedule. Full-day preschool students enrolled in in-person classes will return to Parkview Elementary School 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, and learn remotely on the remaining days.
"We are not giving up on the in-person option," Heid said in the statement. "We are hopeful that the next three weeks will provide the time needed to see local COVID-19 indicators decline and support a return to in-person instruction. During this time we will also review and revise our in-person and remote learning options to minimize any additional changes and maximize our ability to serve both groups with their original teacher."