COVID cases, quarantines rise in McLean County school districts

Local News

BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — COVID-19 quarantines and cases are increasing in McLean County school districts.

Leaders in both Unit 5 and District 87 look to tackle an increased amount of students missing class time.

School leaders in both McLean County Unit 5 and Bloomington District 87 have said higher COVID cases and quarantines are not directly tied to the classroom setting, and they have no plans of going remote.

In Unit 5, the most significant uptick is at Parkside Junior High, where there were 14 positive cases and 73 quarantined among students and staff. According to the district’s dashboard, that’s 10 more cases than Aug. 29-Sept. 4.

“Someone might look at the numbers and say, ‘Oh gosh, that’s a lot of kids.’ But remember, we’re a very large district and have more students than other surrounding districts,” said Unit 5 Superintendent Dr. Kristen Weikle.

Weikle said a lot of the positive cases come from outside of school hours at events like birthday parties or sleepovers, thus leading to an increase in quarantined students.

“If one person in that event is positive, then that impacts a number of our students who also attend that school,” Weikle said.

At Bloomington District 87, nearly 400 students were in quarantine for close contacts or for COVID symptoms. Superintendent, Dr. Barry Reilly, said he’s not necessarily concerned about the positive case numbers, but the number of students missing time.

“We’re not seeing more positive cases from those close contacts and that’s due to masking, [and] doing all the safety protocols,” Reilly said.

Reilly said most positive cases are happening in the community. He said quarantines are currently 10 days.

To avoid students missing so much class time, he hopes to implement a “test to stay” plan.

“If we’re able to test them on days 1,3,5, & 7 and they have no symptoms, we can keep those kids in school,” Reilly said.

At both District 87 and Unit 5, students will not remote in for instruction this year for missed days of school. Instead, they will catch up on Google Classroom or parents can pick up the missed work at their student’s school.

“That’s really a challenge for teachers to have a classroom full of students as well as students on a screen,” Weikle said.

“We just can’t put that burden on our staff because they have a lot of kids in person and trying to do both is just not an effective way to teach and learn,” Reilly said.

In the last week, D-87 had 24 total positive cases among students and staff.

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