Remote learning extended through Jan. 15 for all District 204 students
Indian Prairie Unit District 204 is extending its remote learning plans for all students through Jan. 15 to help control the community spread of the COVID-19 virus and prevent a post-holiday surge in schools.
The district initially planned to move from an e-learning format to a hybrid model at the beginning of the month, but administrators have delayed the transition multiple times amid an escalating number of new infections in the area.
The Naperville and Aurora-area district has seen a spike in confirmed cases, with 275 staff members required to quarantine in the last two weeks due to possible exposure, Superintendent Adrian Talley said in a letter to families. And the community's positivity rate and increased hospitalizations are not expected to start declining any time soon, he said.
"While we are disappointed to announce an extended pause to our in-person learning plans, public health officials are providing no indication that the community transmission level will be reduced from substantial to moderate," Talley said.
Local health department data must show a "moderate" transmission level for two consecutive weeks before the district will move into its hybrid model, he said.
Students in the district's preschool and STEPS programs and those with special needs have still been receiving in-person support, though Talley reported an increasing number of parents choosing not to send their kids to school. Those students will revert to an entirely remote setting starting Monday.
Amid concerns over COVID-19 transmission during the holidays, public health officials have been imploring residents to avoid travel, forgo large events and limit gatherings to immediate family inside their homes. Keeping all students home through Jan. 15 allows for a recommended 14-day quarantine after Thanksgiving and winter breaks, Talley said.
A Tier 3 mitigation strategy took effect statewide Friday as Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged residents to stay home as much as possible. Tighter restrictions include reducing capacity to 50% at grocery stores and 25% at other stores, suspending indoor group sports, closing casinos and gaming terminals, and banning events at banquet halls, party venues and clubs.
Illinois Department of Public Health data reported Friday shows a weekly infection rate of 543 new cases per 100,000 people in DuPage County and 743 new cases per 100,000 residents in Will County.
District 204 officials are expected to monitor health department metrics and reassess the situation in January, Talley said.
"The only way we will decrease the community transmission level is if we all do our part to slow the spread of COVID," he said.