CHICAGO (CBS) — Amid a resurgence of COVID-19 in Cook County and across Illinois, Des Plaines School District 62 announced Tuesday it will move to fully remote learning after the Thanksgiving break.
District 62 began the school year with full-time in-person classes as cases statewide remained relatively low compared to the first wave of the pandemic, although parents were allowed to opt for remote learning for their children if they wished.
But facing an increase in COVID-19 cases across Cook County in recent weeks, and a positivity rate of 12.9% as of Nov. 3, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the district said it will move to an “adaptive phase” at the end of the month, meaning all students will move to remote learning beginning Nov. 30, the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Officials also said the large number of staff currently on quarantine has presented a “great staffing challenge for us and it has made it difficult to conduct day-to-day district operations.”
The district said it will reevaluate its plans on Dec. 14, to determine if students will be allowed to return to in-person learning on Jan. 19, two weeks after the end of winter break.
“During this “adaptive pause” into full remote learning for all our students, we will continue to follow the data closely; as a community, our metrics must start trending in a positive direction before we will consider returning to in-person learning,” the district said in a letter to parents and staff.
The district said it conducts weekly assessments of overall virus transmission in Cook County, new cases per 100,000 people, the county’s positivity rate, the total number of new cases, and the increase in cases among youth to determine the viability of in-person learning.
“This adaptive pause will allow us time to watch the effects of mitigation to curb the rising cases in suburban Cook County. Unfortunately, we do not live in a bubble. The actions of everyone within the local and larger community impact the effects of COVID in our area. Community outbreaks are occurring during social gatherings, sleepovers, weddings and other events. These outbreaks then affect others as people move between social groups,” the district said in its letter.
District officials urged parents to make sure their families limit exposure to the virus by wearing masks, washing hands, and watching their distance.
The district also has provided a remote learning guide for families, which is available on its website.
Meanwhile, more classes will also stay remote in Merrillville, Indiana, until after the holidays.
With COVID-19 cases increasing and positivity rates climbing, the district sent a note to parents saying kids will stay home until Jan. 4.
So-called blended high school classes will continue.
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