Peoria Public School students on track to return to in-person learning next Tuesday

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Public School Board is sticking to its plan to have students back in the buildings next week.

This comes after the board recently received emails with questions and concerns from parents and teachers regarding the safety of returning to in-person learning at the moment.

During Monday’s school board meeting, Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, the district’s superintendent, along with Monica Hendrickson, Peoria City/County Public Health Administrator, and Joshua Collins, Peoria Public Schools Transportation Director, provided information as to why they believe it’s safe for students to return to class.

“I would say CDC guidelines, we’re definitely in compliance with that,” Dr. Kherat said. “I feel safe because of the positivity rate amongst our students are low also. I feel safe because the class sizes are significantly lower”

Students K-12 are scheduled to transition back to in-person learning on a Hybrid A-B schedule next Tuesday, Jan. 19. Dr. Kherat said having students rotate the days they’re present in the buildings, as to not have them all in there at once, helps to minimize potential risk.

Hendrickson said she commends District 150 on its initiatives to help reduce as much risk as possible.

“There’s no such thing as zero risk,” Hendrickson said. “Based on your A-B schedule, your staff being trained for contact tracing and the accessibility you have to testing, I would say you have one of the strongest plans to safely bring students back into school as well as staff back into school.”

Collins said the district will start offering “peace of mind” testing to asymptomatic staff members through its partnership with Reditus Laboratories. He also said starting next Tuesday, they’ll start conducting cyclical testing in groups for the district’s high schoolers.

“The high schools will divide their students into manageable groups somewhere between 60 and 100 students per group,” Collins said. “That group of students 60-100 will be tested every day until we have reached the end of those groups.”

Also during the meeting, the subject of procurement came up after individuals in the African-American business community spoke about the lack of business the district has been doing with minority businesses and firms.

The school board president Doug Shaw said this is an issue the board will look into and try to improve.

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