October 28, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

SJO to stay with in-person instruction after Thanksgiving

St. Joseph-Ogden High School is going to stay with in-person instruction, Superintendent Brian Brooks announced Monday night.

Last Thursday, Brooks told parents that the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District was requiring schools to go 100 percent remote through January 5. After a meeting on Friday, CUPHD told superintendents it was a district decision whether they went remote or kept students in school.

Brooks said that the Champaign County COVID-19 positivity rate is the lowest of the 21 counties in Region 6.

“None of the surrounding counties health departments, whose positivity rates are all higher than Champaign, said they were going to force or even recommend schools shutting down at this time,” Brooks said. “One even said they believe schools are the safest place for students and staff due to all of the safety precautions already in place inside of schools.”

Currently, half of SJO students attend school each day. Students are masked and six feet apart in classrooms and lunchrooms. The district has had zero cases of COVID traced back to the school or spread within the school.

“In addition to that, families aren’t sending their kids to school with COVID symptoms, nor is our staff coming to school with COVID symptoms,” Brooks said.

“It has been a complete team effort to provide this safe environment, of which everyone should be very proud,” Brooks said.

Brooks said the district has decided to move forward with its in-person hybrid schedule until they are mandated to go 100 percent remote or have issues related to COVID within the building.

Students will have in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday of next week. In-person instruction will also resume after Thanksgiving break as long as things do not get worse in regards to COVID.

“We want to continue to provide every opportunity we can for our students during a time in which they have had so much taken away from them,” Brooks said.   

Brooks said he understood that the numerous changes were frustrating.

“Everything could change tomorrow, next week, or next month,” he said. “It feels like we’re back to changes coming at us quickly, which is frustrating for everyone.”

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