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     August 28, 2020      #83-241 a2z

Nearly 90 in quarantine in Bourbonnais Elementary

By Stephanie Markham

BOURBONNAIS — A total 83 students and six staff members in Bourbonnais Elementary School District 53 have been required to quarantine from in-person learning as of Tuesday.

Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines dictate that a student or staff member at a school must quarantine for 14 days after having been in close contact with an infected individual; they also must quarantine after experiencing one or more COVID-19 symptoms and follow additional guidelines before returning to school.

The total number of people required to quarantine in the district started at 13 on Aug. 19, the first day of school, and jumped to 79 on Monday, when the district reported its first positive COVID-19 case. As of Tuesday, the number was up to 89.

Superintendent Adam Ehrman said during Tuesday’s school board meeting that the quarantine number seemed to be leveling off, but the district would continue monitoring the trend to determine the sustainability of in-person learning.

“Right now, we are in the first 14 days [of school], so everything that is happening to us, we don’t have any chance to see students or individuals coming off of that model,” he said. “Right now, they are just coming from one side to the other side in that balancing act.”

He emphasized that decisions on the extent of remote or in-person learning for the district would be made calmly and based on data.

“We can’t simply flip the light switch on and off and impede people’s lives,” he said.

The district implemented a blended model in which students attend school for four hours and complete 1.5 hours of remote learning after school, with seventh- and eighth-graders alternating days of in-person attendance.

As of Tuesday, 20.5 percent of students in the district have opted for fully remote learning, amounting to 465 students, while 1,804 students are on the blended in-person model, bringing the current total enrollment to 2,269.

The percentages are right around what administration predicted based on results of a parent survey sent over the summer, Ehrman said.

However, some families have still not registered for school. Last year’s enrollment total was 2,440.

“We are still trying to identify where those students are,” Ehrman said. “Are they going to come after Labor Day, [when] we seem to have an uptick that takes place historically, or are they now just in this limbo of what to do during COVID?”

He noted that transportation is a key issue when it comes to avoiding potential close contact with an infected person. If a student contracts the virus, anyone who sits near him on the bus could be identified as having been in close contact.

Ehrman said he will be encouraging families who have the ability to use other forms of transportation to get their children to school to do so.

Current IDPH and Illinois State Board of Education guidelines dictate that school buses should be capped at 50 people with face masks required and social distancing in place whenever possible.

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Stephanie Markham
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