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

SJO hopeful to keep in-person learning through end of semester

Six staff members at St. Joseph-Ogden High School are currently in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 or being a close contact to someone who tested positive.


Principal Gary Page emailed parents to tell parents that in two days the school had four new positive COVID-19 cases. Two staff have tested positive, while four are in quarantine for being a close contact. Six students are quarantining due to being a close contact of a positive COVID case while three students are currently positive for COVID.


“Three of those cases have happened while those individuals were already quarantined with a COVID positive family member and the other one was over the weekend,” Page said.


Page said after contract tracing they are not seeing any community spread that can be tied to the school.


Page said the district is hopeful they can finish the semester with in-person learning but is monitoring the situation due to the number of staff currently in quarantine.


“It really depends on our coverage options,” he said.


Page said a number of staff members have been able to teach remotely while in quarantine.


“We still have some options for coverage and if we can get through this week it opens up even more for us moving into next week,” he said. “I am optimistic we will make it through the end of the semester for in-person learning. “


Page said the district has been very fortunate up until this point because they have been able to find subs when they need them.


“We do have a small pool of subs but they are very dedicated to SJO,” he said.  “They have continued to answer the bell and their flexibility and willingness has made all the difference in the world.  We have also had several staff members be willing to help cover periods when they can.  Between our subs and the flexibility of our current staff we have been able to press on.”


Page said outside of a large surge the district saw between Halloween and Thanksgiving the number of students who have had to quarantine has been much lower than anticipated.


“The social distancing and other mitigations our students and staff have been so diligent in carrying out is the only reason we have been able to stay in school,” Page said. “As difficult as the hybrid model is on an academic level, it has allowed us to keep our doors open for in-person learning.  This was especially evident when through last month’s surge.”

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