Dist. 186 to remain remote through 2020

Decision comes as Sangamon County sees "substantial community spread"

Springfield Public Schools will continue to hold remote classes through the rest of the calendar year. The decision comes as Sangamon County along with the region, state and country  sees a surge in COVID-19 cases.

In an email to staff on Friday, District 186 superintendant Jennifer Gill writes:

“Over the last few days the COVID-19 positivity rate has drastically increased in our state, county and region. Due to this increase, we are changing our approach to staffing our buildings. Governor Pritzker recently made a statement about working from home if your position allows, limiting travel to that which is essential, and keeping safe. Sangamon County is moving into stricker (sic) mitigation beginning 12:01 a.m. Friday night as a result. Thus, we will remain remote for the rest of this semester (Dec. 21, 2020)”

The email states that students with special needs who have been attending school in-person will shift to remote learning after next week, to allow a period of transition.

Gill writes that the goal going forward is to limit staff in buildings and reduce contact. Buildings will remain open, though staffed on a “limited, rotational basis.” Teachers working in their classrooms who can work from home are asked to do so.

District offices, food distribution, SCOPE and 21st Century clubs will remain operational. However, “Open gyms, tutoring in person, pictures in person, office hours in person and other extracurricular activities in person will be cancelled at this time,” the email states.

A district spokesperson writes to Illinois Times via email, “District 186 will continue remote instruction through the remainder of the semester due to our community’s COVID-19 metrics.”

In the face of pressure from some parents to allow more students to learn in-person, the school board has held steady in its position to make the decision based on public health metrics. Three out of the four categories it uses to assess the safety of beginning a hybrid learning option were last reported to be in the “substantial” risk category, according to the district website, including the county’s positivity rate.

The county health department has reported the rolling positivity rate to be 16.2%, as of yesterday. “The increase in new cases per 100,000 indicates substantial community spread,” a statement from the Sangamon County Department of Public Health director reads. SCDPH reports there have been more than 50 cases where those infected were exposed at a school since the pandemic began.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for this coming Monday, Nov. 16. 

Contact Rachel Otwell at rotwell@illinoistimes.com.
This story was updated to include a comment from a District 186 spokesperson.

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