I’ve never once went swimming and said “I’ll only go for a half swim.”
Why? Because it’s asinine, as the Clifton Comets showed us Saturday in a photo taken from their dream world where social distancing doesn’t exist, or rather instead just simply ignored.
The same can be said for a pandemic.
Once you’re exposed, you’re exposed. Only in this case you or your loved ones don’t find you’re drawers wet for up to two weeks. I’m rather proud to say I’ve never tossed my grandmother into the deep end, both literally and figuratively.
Clifton, as part of Iroquois County, was issued a warning after it tripped three metrics used by the Illinois Department of Public for COVID-19 mitigation just two ago.
Illinois school boards have been put in a position no one elected them to do. Use their judgment to mitigate a pandemic, a far cry from the basic outlines listed in the job description. Now the effects of those decisions expected to be seen far and wide within the next few weeks as students return, or don’t rather, to classrooms.
Across the state, the fate of the community and immediate health of students and teachers, chosen by a select few. Elected leaders willfully guide or cradle of thousands of students, teachers, and staff, with their decisions set to be Monday morning quarterbacked by parents, students, teachers, staff, and the community just days after the first student steps into a school for class.
At a time when thoughts are called for, many communities are not. In those types of communities, they’ll eventually they’ll come unsolicited and belated with ‘thoughts and prayers’ cards for families. Communities remain split between what is right for the physical and mental health of our youth, guided by an illusion of gratification simply because a ‘vote’ has come down by board members.
A layer of decision leading to a division that should have never been presented during a pandemic in the first place. Nearly 80% of all 1,664,755 students at 3,510 schools stretched out across 700 districts in Illinois will return to school halls in some form or another this fall. Less 24% will begin the school year remotely.
The problem? Once you’re in the pool, you’re wet.
At New Lenox and Frankfort for example, two school boards decide the fate of over 10,000 students between the two communities when classrooms resume this fall.
In New Lenox, Lincoln-Way CHSD 210 and it’s 6,600+ students will be welcomed back into a blended learning option. The decision came after parents “a desire to return to some form of in-person instruction and learning,” a letter to parents from Superintendent R. Scott Tingley read in July in regards to the district board’s decision to reopen. The school had received over 6,000 responses, with over 80 percent of parents, students, and teachers in favor of a fully in-person or blended learning option.
While just 13 minutes away in Frankfort, 2,563 students will prepare for in-person learning to return to Frankfort School District 157-C. An optional Full-Time Remote Learning model had been made available for students and parents who choose to take advantage of it. The board made their decision based on just over 50 percent of parents (800 families) returning a survey. Of those parents polled, 87 percent said they planned to send their children to school for full days beginning August 24th. A figured that if applied to the universal attendance, means only 334 students would be remote learners in Frankfort.
As for the rest, parents from Frankfort schools indicated roughly 85-89 percent would have their children wear masks, with 94 percent saying they would be willing to conduct a COVID-19 symptom check on their child before school.
Plainfield and Joliet schools have opted out of in-person or blended models and will conduct remote learning entirely this fall. Lincoln-Way CHSD 210 and their 6,677 students joined them this weekend.
A common practice among all schools returning to classrooms this fall? The inclusion of a school Isolation Room for COVID probable cases. It’s part of a CDC recommendation that pushed school administrators, nurses, and other healthcare providers to identify an isolation room or area to separate anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive but does not have symptoms.
In Kankakee County, 99% of students will return to a blended model in the County, with only 178 students at Pembroke CCSD 259 opting to go all remote for the fall.
Will 92% of students get COVID-19? ‘I don’t know,’ is not acceptable. Though if you’re the CDC, you might give the more PR friendly version of IDK, “Evidence is limited.”
Among teachers, words like afraid, nervous, and stressed have been used out of earshot of students leading to resignations at board meetings across the nation. Educators walking away from careers questioning how they will find a new identity in a COVID-19 world, that pushes caring souls into the bowels of the beast, instead of aiding and protecting the treasures they are.
At Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School, Kelly Dunnill resigned from her teaching job this past week calling the situation at the school ‘no longer good for my mental health.’
“I believe that it is likely that some students and teachers will come down with COVID,” Dunnill told me earlier this month. “I think people who have not been in a classroom grossly underestimate the number of risk teachers are assuming by doing their job in-person. It is not comparable to a grocery store clerk, as many memes being passed around social media suggest. On the flip side, the lack of time with peers and adults who care about them is detrimental to students who live with abusive adults. There is no good answer as to how to do school right now.”
Dunnill has since taken a job at another school.
A double-take is REALLY required at every district in Illinois just for comparison of leadership and community’s sake to avoid growing hotbeds for the virus. Feel free to investigate below for yourself. With a 14 day cycle, exposure starts in the classroom. In Kankakee County, that’s only 11,000+ students to trace…every single day. That’s over a quarter of a million interactions for students just to get to and from school in a 12-day period.
With the injection of the new student populous in turn presents an opportunity for every child to become another vehicle for COVID-19. An underage transit system unfolding before our eyes could become the logistical behemoth to supercharge the virus.
A ‘blended’ model is nothing short of propaganda when it comes to mitigation of this plague. Variables are everything, and made worse with kids that are unpredictable, or encouraged to rage against an invisible enemy by adults.
Prepare to get wet.