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With more than 1,000 students out sick, St. Charles District 303 hopes to keep schools open

Charles County School hopes to keep in-person learning in place as the number of sick students and staff abroad continues to grow.

On Monday, 188 staff members called patients as well as 1,119 students. Dist. 303 serves about 12,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

“So we’re hovering around the 10 percent (absentee students) rate across the district,” principal Jason Pearson told school board members during their Monday meeting. “We continue to try to keep the school open for personal learning as much as possible. We definitely want to make sure that we are working with the Department of Health and we want to make sure that our buildings are kept open and that they are safe for students and faculty.”

If the situation worsens, Pearson said, action will have to be taken.

“If we find ourselves in a situation where we find it necessary, we will try to make a building by building or a classroom by closing the classroom rather than anything that can be across the area,” he said.

According to Dist. 303 COVID-19 dashboard, area with 270 active cases. Since August 11, the district has had 797 cases, including 687 student cases and 110 employee cases.

Last week, the district had 114 positive SHIELD tests. The district contracts with the University of Illinois SHIELD to conduct weekly screening tests. The test is a PCR saliva test.

“Before last week, our record for positive tests was 18,” Pearson said. “So you can see that this was a pretty big leap.”

Last month, Pearson told board members that the district does not plan to use snow days as distance learning days this winter.

“As a district, we have an approved distance learning contingency plan,” Pearson said. “However, it is our intention that, at least for the first three days that we experience severe weather, we will have a normal snowy day as we would have experienced before remote learning. We all know that distance learning is not the best situation for students.”

He indicated that the situation could change.

“The only thing that might change that a little bit is if for some reason we have an extended period of time where we’re out of school, like a snowstorm or something that’s several days in a row,” Pearson said. “Then, at that point, we’ll reconsider the plan. You know, normally, we go out one or two days at most at a time. Families have been notified of that so they can prepare.”

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