ROCHELLE — Rochelle School District 231 will continue conducting in-person learning despite recent recommendations from the Ogle County Health Department that all schools transition to remote learning from Thanksgiving break to mid-January due to rising COVID-19 cases.
The District 231 Board of Education met Tuesday evening to hold discussions and hear audience comments regarding a potential move to remote learning. Rochelle Superintendent Jason Harper said that nearly 80 percent of students in the district will be attending school in person for the second trimester after around 65 percent were in person for the first trimester.
“We looked at the decision as an overall decision,” Board President Dave Casey said. “We looked at the education of our kids and the safety of our students and staff. We looked at the impact the kids are seeing at home as opposed to learning in person and the impact on the kids and their families. We’re watching our numbers daily and we’re ready for any partial closures. But right now, we feel the benefits of in-person learning outweigh the potential negatives.”
Central School teacher Cosme Becerra and Rochelle Middle School teacher Jason Deutsch presented board members with results of a survey conducted by the Rochelle Elementary Education Association during Tuesday’s meeting. Roughly 70 percent of the 117 teachers in the REEA responded to the survey, which revealed that, although the classroom is the best place to learn, teachers supported following the Ogle County Health Department recommendations.
“We have a really good relationship with our teachers and we want them to feel safe,” Casey said. “It wasn’t going to be an easy decision either way and the concerns of our teachers made up a large portion of our discussions. We respect and care for all of our teachers and staff.”
District 231 has seen a few partial transitions to remote learning since the start of the school year. Central School’s first and fourth-graders were temporarily moved to 14-day remote learning recently, while Tilton School and Rochelle Middle School have seen at least one confirmed COVID-19 case as well. Casey said the district will continue to monitor local data as well as any potential COVID-19 cases or outbreaks within its schools moving forward.
Board members discussed the upcoming tax levy, which will be approved at the December meeting next month. Business manager Kevin Dale said the EAV of the district totaled about $320 million, which is roughly $10 million greater than last year. Dale said the district will be asking for $9,388.250, an increase of 3.99 percent from last year’s levy.