December 6, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

COVID cases not tied to schools

There have been no cases of COVID-19 traced to any of the schools in St. Joseph.  

Grade school Superintendent Todd Pence and St. Joseph-Ogden Superintendent Brian Brooks said all positive cases at their schools have been traced back to exposure outside of the school.

On Nov. 9, Brooks informed SJO parents and students that one student and one staff member had tested positive for COVID-19.  

Since school started, eight students have tested positive for COVID-19 at SJO, Brooks said. Five staff members have also tested positive since August, including a staff member that is an activity sponsor or coach but works outside of the district.

Brooks said 44 students, in addition to the eight students that tested positive, have quarantined at some point since August.

“We feel that is really good, as almost all of those who have had to be quarantined are due to direct exposure from a family member or direct exposure from somewhere outside of the school,” Brooks said. “It does create more challenges academically for both students and their teachers as well.”

The high school disinfects all student and staff touchpoints, such as classrooms, desks, the lunchroom, buses, door handles and offices every night.

Brooks said the SJO students have adjusted to their new normal.
“The students have adjusted, and they have been great in understanding the current need to be on this hybrid schedule,” Brooks said. “ It is challenging and different academically, but they are adapting.”

Brooks said the hardest part for students is not having normal activities like a homecoming, band competition, sports or even hanging out at their lockers.

“All of us are very proud of how positive our students have been through this entire Pandemic,” he said.

On Nov. 9, Pence said the district had been informed that a student at the middle school had tested positive for COVID-19.  The district has had 12 students test positive and three staff members. Twelve of the cases are considered recovered.

Pence said in October, 62 students and five staff members were quarantined.

The district cleans every day in between their morning and afternoon sessions.

Pence said things are going as well as can be expected but he does miss seeing students participate in class parties and plays.

“Things aren’t as good as being in-person full day especially on the social side of things, but academically we are hitting the basics very hard every day,” he said.

Brooks said he looks forward to the day the entire student body is at the school every day and are able to be involved in activities that they love to do.

“Just seeing and feeling that general excitement from kids due to something that is going on at the school,” he said.  “Procedurally, we feel like things have gone very well, but the sooner we can get back to “normal” the better. “

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