Updated Guidelines Help Dist 117 Stay In-Person In Spite of Continued Record Case Counts

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 12, 2022 at 3:15pm

Jacksonville School District 117 says the new updates to COVID guidelines for schools will hopefully help keep in-person learning, despite continued record case numbers.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says student absences related to COVID-19 have reached an unprecedented level with 431 students out of school due to COVID on Tuesday, with 87 of those being positive with the virus.

Ptacek says however that staff absences in District 117 have lowered slightly but are still high. He says the change in staff absences is hopefully a good sign that the district would not have to shift to remote learning due to a lack of adequate staffing.

He says a lack of staffing is the primary threat to staying in-person, and the newly adopted guidelines are helping tremendously. District 117 currently has 22 staff in school today who would have been home another 5 days under the previous requirements.

Conversely, that change did not come soon enough for the Central School District in Camp Point Illinois who announced today it will be closing school through the rest of the week due to a staffing shortage. No remote options will be offered and the two days will be made up at the end of the school year. Camp Point is one of a number of districts in the state including the North Mac School District in Virden to close school completely ahead of the long holiday weekend.

Ptacek says the changes made by the CDC and now adopted by IDPH allow a return to school after 5 days with increased restrictions during the remaining 5 days as long as certain criteria are met such as not being symptomatic.

The new guideline is referred to as a “5 Plus 5” model and Ptacek says it is the job of the nursing staff to determine if a student or staff member is eligible to return for the remaining five days which is determined by their specific health situation.

Ptacek is continuing to ask the community for patience with both the new guidelines and the nursing staff, as case numbers continue to rise making it that much more difficult to contact everyone as timely as possible.