Jacksonville School District is entering its 6th week of school and things continue to run operationally smooth with no outbreaks of COVID-19.
District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek says that the focus is shifting away from the pandemic with some due diligence still being paid to keep the virus at bay: “Right now, I’ve had a conversation with our school nurse Cindy Weger and I think things are going so well when it comes to [COVID-19] that we are worried about complacency. I think we have had 2 students who have tested positive. There is still very low numbers between staff and students. More quarantines, but we know of all the cases that we’ve had positive this year. None of them [have come at the school]. We all know of an incident that occurred outside the school. There has been not one case of anything transferred within the school. Right now, with the limited cases following Labor Day, we are feeling pretty good. We were really worried about Labor Day. Now our discussions are more about how is our educational programming working rather than just the success of getting through the pandemic itself. That’s a good place to be right now.”
Ptacek says that internal contact tracing is still being done with seating charts, social distancing, and the rotation of staff. Ptacek says that as long as students and staff stick to the guidelines with social distancing and mask wearing things will continue to progress forward.
Ptacek says his current main worry is the failure of those students who are remote learning and being unresponsive: “We are still having many more students who are not fully responsive, and yes, our failure rate with many of our students that are on remote learning is much higher than normal. We anticipated this. There is no way our remote instruction is going to equal our in-person instruction. We are stressing to parents that we’re providing a safe opportunity to return to in-person learning. If there is not a medical need to stay away from the virus, at this point in time, your kids need to be coming to school.”
Ptacek says that he overall has been pleased with the behavior of students in the classroom and online during this challenging time. Ptacek does anticipate that the winter months may be the toughest test ahead.