- East St. Louis School District 189
2nd Quarter Instructional Plan
October 5, 2020
Dear School District 189 Parents, Students and Staff,
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging and is not over. However, I am proud of the resourcefulness and resilience of our students, parents, staff, and community partners as they have rallied through this adversity. Our students have adjusted well to remote learning and are consistently engaged in learning activities.
We have continued to closely monitor COVID-19 positive case data for our serving zip codes and have consulted with the East Side Health District. Additionally, we have received feedback from staff, student groups and parents about the benefits and challenges of various learning models. Based on the following data and our concern for the health and safety of our students, staff and community, School District 189 will remain in Remote Learning to begin the second quarter (October 19, 2020). As community conditions improve, we will consider shifting to a hybrid or full in-school model.
COVID-19 and Health Data
There has been a recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases in St. Clair County. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) elevated the entire county to Orange on October 2nd, indicating there are warning signs of increased COVID-19 risks.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in our serving zip codes continues to increase. Approximately 30% of St. Clair County cases are within our serving zip codes.
When looking at our serving zip codes in both St. Clair and Madison counties, our applied ratio is 128 cases per 100,000. This is 2.6 times higher than the Governor’s recommended infection rate threshold of 50 per 100,000.
School District 189 has experienced 22 positive COVID-19 cases among staff since July 1, 2020. When partner service staff are included, such as Chartwells and Illinois Bus Company, the total number of positive COVID-19 staff cases since July 1st is 26.
Last week, the East Side Health District reported to us that the number of positive COVID-19 cases in their serving jurisdiction was increasing about 15 new cases per day. This weekend, there were an additional 27 new cases reported. They are currently following 150 active cases across their jurisdiction, which does not include cases currently under quarantine. Positive cases have been increasing over the last two weeks.
With the upcoming cold and flu season, it will be hard to distinguish between cold, flu and COVID-19 symptoms. The East Side Health District has cautioned that it will be difficult to contain and differentiate individuals with these varying diagnoses and that contact tracing will also be more challenging.
Experts warn of an expected surge of COVID-19 cases in the winter months ahead.
The Federal Government is anticipated to send rapid COVID-19 testing resources (15 minutes to get results) to assist with the reopening of schools. Based on the data in our area, it would be highly beneficial to have COVID-19 rapid test kits available prior to students returning to school.
Preliminary immunization data for SY2021 indicates 50% or more of the K, 6th, 9th, and 12th grade students are out of medical compliance. This is due, in part, to limited healthcare resources available to our families. School-based health care clinics are closed due to COVID. These health care providers feel it is unsafe for their workers.
Currently, 99 teachers are working remotely due to elevated health risks and/or family/child care obligations. This accounts for 26% of our teaching population. Some work around their children’s school schedules.
Our teachers and parents report improvements in remote learning engagement and instruction from Spring 2020 to Fall 2020. Additionally, teacher training over the summer and through the first weeks of the Fall has led to School District 189 teachers providing longer direct instruction and face-to-face virtual interaction which is now exceeding the minimum 2.5 hours of synchronous instruction recommended by the Illinois State Board of Education. I am deeply grateful for the great work our teachers, students and parents are doing together to make remote learning successful.
Based on recent parent and staff survey feedback as well as discussions with students, parents and teachers, we will make a few adjustments to improve remote learning at the start of the second quarter. School District 189 remains fully committed to providing high-quality instruction to our students and to ensuring the safety of our students and staff. Considering the data as well as the health and safety of our teaching and learning community, the most responsible decision at this time is to remain in Remote Learning. Thank you for your flexibility, patience and perseverance during these unprecedented times.
Arthur R. Culver