With more than 1,000 students out sick, St. Charles District 303 hopes to keep schools open

 
 
Updated 1/11/2022 11:14 AM

St. Charles School District is hoping to keep in-person learning in place as the number of students and staff members who are out sick continue to grow.

On Monday, 188 employees called in sick along with 1,119 students. Dist. 303 serves about 12,000 pre K-12 students.

 

"So we're hovering around about a 10 percent (student absentee) rate across the district," School Superintendent Jason Pearson told school board members during their meeting Monday. "We continue to want to try to keep school open for in-person learning as much as possible. We certainly want to make sure that we're working with the health department and we want to be sure to keep our buildings open and that they are safe for students and staff members."

If the situation gets worse, Pearson said action would have to be taken.

"If we find ourselves in a situation where we find that it's necessary, we will try to do a building by building or classroom by classroom closure as opposed to anything that would be across the district," he said.

According to Dist. 303's COVID-19 case dashboard, the district has 270 active cases. Since Aug. 11, the district has had 797 cases, including 687 student cases and 110 staff cases.

Last week, the district had 114 positive SHIELD tests. The district is contracting with the University of Illinois SHIELD to conduct weekly screening tests. The test is a PCR saliva test.

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"Prior to last week, our record number of positive tests was 18," Pearson said. "So you can see that was a pretty significant jump."

Last month, Pearson told board members the district does not plan to use snow days as remote learning days this winter.

"As a district, we do have an emergency remote learning plan that has been approved," Pearson said. "However, it is our intent, at least for the first three days we have inclement weather, to have just a regular snow day like we would have had before remote learning. We all know that remote learning is not the best situation for students."

He noted the situation could change.

"The only thing that might change that a little bit is if for some reason we have an extended period of time where we're out of school, like a blizzard or something where it's multiple days in a row," Pearson said. "Then at the point, we'll revisit the plan. As you know, typically, we're only out one day or two days at a time at the most. We have been notifying families of that so they can be prepared."

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