Jacksonville School District Releases COVID Report

By Ali Pyle on November 17, 2020 at 11:44am

Jacksonville School District 117 has released a COVID report aimed at keeping the community updated about conditions at Jacksonville schools on a daily basis. 

District Superintendent Steve Ptacek announced the tracker via email to parents and staff today along with a PDF copy of the report and a definitions and legend page last week.

Ptacek says the COVID Daily Tracker report helps the district in its decision making, and will provide the community critical information during this challenging time: “The file has been active and updated on a daily basis, but after some recent conversations I had I just went well why don’t I summarize that on a daily basis and get it out to the community. These are important numbers the community should know. It’s a living document so it’s constantly being updated and downloaded into a separate excel file that will take a snapshot at it at one time. From there, we can start creating data points to just track any trends.” 

Ptacek says currently the number one concern with regard to staffing in the district is at Eisenhower Elementary, where there is currently five staff members who are isolated at home, one of which is positive for COVID, and four others are awaiting test results as of Friday.

Ptacek says the district takes cases and close contacts with the virus very seriously as they work to maintain enough staffing: “We’re proactive. The minute that happens they’re home, so they have not been in the school for a while. We’re hoping that some of those isolations turn out negative, and then once their symptoms are gone, they’re able to return to school. So, we’re hoping to get some good news by the end of the week, but right now we’re finding any possible solution we have to get bodies into the classrooms to be able to provide the services that we need for our students. If we can get even paraprofessionals in there and pay them as substitutes and then have teachers remote in for the instruction that’s something we’re looking at.” 

Ptacek says Eisenhower is very close to having to go to full remote learning for a period of time if staffing shortages continue. He says conversely, South Elementary has had very little staffing issues, however there is an entire classroom including the teacher who have been on remote learning due to a positive test. 

Ptacek says a huge positive going for the district is they have yet to have one positive case of transmission of COVID from an individual at a school, and so far, no one from the South School class on remote has become symptomatic and that class was on pace to return to in-person learning yesterday. 

Ptacek says they are continuing to work on a contingency plan should the entire district be forced into remote learning, although the district is committed to in-person learning. 

He says the elementary and middle schools contingency remote plans are nearly ready, and Jacksonville High School is considering going to a full live streaming model where even students who are currently on remote learning, would live stream into an in-person classroom on a regular basis, and if JHS does go to the live stream model, they would be really prepared to go to a full remote model. 

Ptacek days as districts near District 117 go to full remote, he will be speaking with those superintendents to discuss what kind of deal could be worked out for support staffing such as extra help from bus drivers should District 117 have a shortage due to COVID complications. He says the great success the district is having in keeping students in school this year, could not have been accomplished without the hard work of all involved, including parents and the community as a whole. 

The District 117 COVID Tracker Report can be assessed daily at jsd117.org.