Superintendent Warns: Keeping Bourbonnais Schools COVID-19 free ‘unrealistic’

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Bourbonnais Elementary School District #53 (BESD) new Superintendent is wasting no time being frank with parents in the community towards the pandemic.

“I wish I could state that we will never have a case of Covid-19 at BESD #53, but that would be unrealistic.” Superintendent Dr. Adam Ehrman said in a letter to parents Monday afternoon. “I am confident that we will be able to drastically improve our organizational capabilities to remotely educate our students.”

Ehrman’s letter comes nearly two weeks after the BESD Board of Education voted to approve a half-day learning instruction plan for grades K-8 with a remote learning option.  Other communities opted for an all remote learning plan across Illinois, including Chicago Public Schools and several major suburbs, including Naperville.

A transmission graphic of an enclosed room spreading the virus. [Graphic: University of Illinois]

Prior to the Board’s vote in late July, local educators had made their voices heard, with nearly 50 percent (44%) of all educators saying they ‘feared for their safety’ in returning to the classroom.   Warnings are also extended throughout BESD #53 Return to School Plans, each of Bourbonnais’ five schools is highlighted with a conditional warning that reads:

“We acknowledge that our COVID-19 Return To School Plans are intended to mitigate, not eliminate, risk. No single action or set of actions will completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but implementation of several coordinated interventions can greatly reduce that risk.”

“We all recognize that returning to school this fall will be anything but normal. Even with the many safety modifications made which definitely will influence almost every aspect of the educational process, we all understand that Covid-19 will still shape this school year.” Dr. Ehrman said in the letter Monday. “For the time being the length of the school day has been modified as another safety measure to protect our students and staff, yet we all know that our schools are not immune to Covid-19.”

Ehrman’s message to parents came on a day when 30 new cases were reported in Kankakee County by the Kankakee County Health Department, including two teenagers. As of Monday night, there were 539 active cases in the Kankakee community.

Both Manteno and Bradley schools have similar plans in place for the upcoming school year. The Board plans to meet again on August 12th at 7 pm to review the evolving details of the plan before school opens on August 19th. 

You can read details of the Bourbonnais plan here.

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