ROCHELLE — The Ogle County Health Department has recently recommended that school districts in the county transition to a remote learning period for all students, beginning Thanksgiving break and ending in mid-January, due to increasing COVID-19 spread within the local community.
“Ogle County is experiencing significant community spread of COVID-19,” the health department recommendations read. “The Ogle County Health Department has recommended a pause to in-person learning between the holidays and into the first two weeks of 2021. The increased community spread raises the risk for higher rates of COVID-19 transmission in schools. The health department is concerned that transmission rates during the holidays will make it difficult for school staff and the health department to keep up with contact tracing. The decision to move to remote learning is ultimately one of the local school board and the district superintendent. The Ogle County Health Department is making the above recommendation for local school board consideration due to the increase in local COVID-19 cases, local hospital utilization, the assumption that families will gather with family members outside of their immediate household, most college students will be home during this time; increasing the risk of transmission and the local public health system’s limited ability to respond to the rapid growth in the number of cases.”
Rochelle Superintendent Jason Harper released a statement Wednesday afternoon detailing that the Ogle County Health Department recommendations will be addressed during the District 231 Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10 and the District 212 Board of Education meeting on Monday, Nov. 16. Harper also wrote that the school districts are seeking guidance from school attorneys and insurance carriers regarding next steps.
“We continue to prefer to offer in-person learning as long as we can do so legally and safely,” Harper wrote in the statement. “We continue to monitor our student and staff COVID-19 data. In the meantime, we continue to urge you to make family plans regarding what remote learning will look like for your child or children and to secure a reliable connection to the internet. Secondly, the OCHD has shifted the responsibility of family/student COVID19-related communication (quarantine and contact tracing) to school districts as a result of the increase in positive cases across the county. Our nursing staff is aware of this change and will continue to use OCHD/IDPH guidance as we have since the start of the school year. For complicated cases, the schools may require direct communication with the OCHD.”