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MCUSD to Move to Remote Learning November 30

Meridian Parents,                                                                                                                                                   November 20, 2020

On November 3, the Ogle County Health Department recommended that all Ogle County schools transition to remote learning from November 30 through January 18 to help stop the spread of COVID19 and decrease the strain on our regional health care system. 

Since receiving the recommendation, we have been in close contact with the representatives from the OCHD, IEMA, and regional hospitals to understand external community trends. We have also been in communication with the Board of Education, union leadership, parents, and superintendents of other regional districts. 

Through all these conversations it is clear: the spread of COVID19, the strain on our regional healthcare system, our students and COVID19-related absences, our number of positive cases, and other valuable regional data points are all increasing. While we have been incredibly fortunate to not experience spread in our schools up to this point, as the conditions have worsened, we are continuing to place an increased risk on our students, staff, and community. 

A few key data points we have considered: 

  • We have nearly one percent of all in-person learners currently with an active COVID infection.
  • We have approximately 10 percent of all staff and students quarantined presently, including 17 percent of in-person learners in one building.
  • As of Thursday, our district’s zip codes 7-day positivity rate is over 25% and 14-day is over 22%. 
    • CDC guidance says that any positivity rate over 10% leads to the highest risk for possible transmission of the virus in schools
  • As of Thursday, our district’s zip codes number of new cases per 100k is over 1,350. (source: http://covid-dashboard.fsm.northwestern.edu/)
  • The Ogle County Health Department is relying more on the school to track and follow students that present with mild symptoms in order to focus on probable or confirmed cases. This switch has caused significantly more burden on nurses and other school resources.
  • Our inability to continue to operate in a sustainable manner. We have been a single employee absence away from shutting down multiple buildings and/or departments within the past two weeks. 

Given the above, in addition to the consensus advice from health experts that this is expected to intensify instead of dissipate over the next several weeks, I feel that we have a responsibility to our students, employees, and community to ensure we are also doing our part to implement COVID19 mitigation strategies -- including adhering to the OCHD’s recommendation. While our Board of Education is supportive of this decision, they are not universally in favor of this transition. 

As a result, Meridian CUSD 223 will be following the OCHD recommendation to move to all remote learning from Monday, November 30 through Monday, January 18. We will reopen schools on Tuesday, January 19 unless we cannot do so safely or there is a directive we cannot do so.

LOGISTICS

Tuesday, November 24 will be our last day of in-person instruction. We plan to return to school on Tuesday, January 19. 

Before November 24, each school building/principal/teacher will:

 Communicate a finalized remote learning plan for each grade level and building; and 

  • Specific classroom schedules and Google Meet links will be distributed by teachers.
  • Focus on preparing your student(s) to be successful in remote learning by reviewing critical learning expectations, technology skills, and getting necessary learning materials home.

Meridian CUSD will continue to provide meals for our students. The details of sign-up and delivery will be forthcoming. In the coming days there will be multiple important communications from the district and we ask that you continue to be responsive and communicative.

If you have any questions about this decision, please contact me directly. If you have any questions about the logistics that will impact your specific student, please direct those questions to your building principal. 

Personal explanation of the process: https://youtu.be/UpwNjqCfLDE

En Espanol: _Parent letter Spanish.docx 

Sincerely,

Dr. PJ Caposey