All students have been isolated in one classroom at Conley Elementary School in Algonquin after several students tested positive for COVID-19 in the first McHenry County school outbreak of the school year.
Fifteen students in Conley have tested positive for the virus, along with a staff member, according to the COVID-19 dashboard at Huntley Unit District 158.
“The outbreak was identified over the weekend and was officially announced Monday morning after information was confirmed by (McHenry County Health) and the School Health Officer,” said Lindsey Salvatelli, a spokeswoman for the McHenry County Health Department. “Based on the number of cases in the class and the specific risk factors identified in the initial investigation, the classroom has been closed and all students and staff have been isolated, segregated, or quarantined.”
District 158 spokeswoman Alex LeMoyne did not say how many of Conley’s 16 cases were linked to the outbreak in a single semester. She said the Illinois Department of Health and Public Health define an outbreak as two or more cases linked through school exposure.
Conley has students in grades three through five, and the Department of Health confirmed that the outbreak occurred in a classroom in which none of the students were old enough to be vaccinated.
LeMoine said district officials or the school nurse contacted the parents of all affected students directly. The district also notified parents of all school students about the situation.
LeMoine said 158 students from the school district have not been hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Salvatelli said the outbreak appears to have resulted from improper hiding and social distancing.
“Mitigation interventions – wearing masks and social distancing – have not been strictly adhered to. Therefore, transmission is high, and we continue to monitor the other cases of those who have been exposed in this class and under quarantine. (It is possible) to enumerate the cases associated with this outbreak,” Salvatelli said. the increase”.
LeMoine said that wearing masks indoors is required in District 158 schools. She said the district is continuing to push for mitigation measures in light of the outbreak.
“We recognize that this mitigation strategy is important to maintaining the safety and health of our students, as well as keeping them learning in the classroom. We have passed on concealment policies to our staff, students, and families and continue to enforce proper mask-wearing on our buildings to the extent possible.”
The district’s mask policy was the focus of heated debate among District 158 parents this summer, before Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced statewide mandates requiring masks in schools regardless of vaccination status.
About 100 people attended a school board meeting in July in the district to demand the optional mask policy. Many parents and students have spoken out against masks and sometimes vaccinations. Many parents had signs with pictures of their children showing how they did not like to wear masks in schools.
Conley is located on the same campus as Heineman Middle School and Mackeben Primary School. Neither school is no longer part of the outbreak.
Heinemann had four cases among students, while McKibbin had two cases among students as of Wednesday, according to the district.
In all 158 district schools, 50 cases of COVID-19 have been identified as of Wednesday. Three of the 48 cases were among employees. The district also had 374 students and four staff members in quarantine or isolation as of Wednesday.
Lemoyne said no other outbreaks have been identified in the area.
More information on the source of the outbreak, as well as the number of 14 people infected with COVID-19 that could be provided Friday by IDPH.
The state updates the number of schools by county in which the outbreak has occurred every Friday and includes an estimate of the number of people involved in the outbreak, as well as where the outbreak occurred, such as in the classroom or through sports.
Two schools in Keene County, including John Shields Elementary School in Sugar Grove, are among 26 schools in Illinois with the outbreak on Friday.
Kaneland School District 302 officials said in a letter to parents Monday that John Shields is taking additional steps to address the outbreak, including requiring students to wear masks outdoors at bus stops and at recess when 6-foot distancing cannot be maintained.
The state only requires a mask at school while on and off the bus.
John Shields has seen 10 cases among students and staff since the school began, according to the district’s dashboard. The outbreak has had fewer than five cases among students and associated staff, according to the IDPH.
While no students in District 158 have been hospitalized, two students at the hospital were infected with the virus in Algonquin last week, Superintendent Susan Harkin told the Board of Education.
At the time, they were among 48 students who tested positive. Since then, the total number of students who have tested positive has risen to 81, according to the district COVID dashboard.