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Archive for the ‘The New Normal’ Category

It seems that Barrington Hills Park District officials believe the less residents are informed, the better off they are.

The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening via Zoom at 7 PM.  A copy of their agenda can be viewed here, but just as we’ve cautioned repeatedly, don’t expect much information.  

There are no minutes available from the February meeting for the public to review online, nor is a recording of the Zoom meeting. The District WAS kind enough to include taxpayers with their 2019 Annual Financial Statement (found here) when we pointed out one of their lapses in transparency last month.

Information on how to join the Zoom meetings tonight can be found here.

We should also note that last week the District Advisory Committee met on March 2nd.  The notice can be found here, but there was no agenda posted nor any minutes. Even more disappointing, when searching the District website (found here), there’s no information to be found on this Committee. 

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Because so many students at Barrington High School are choosing all-virtual learning, seniors who had chosen hybrid learning now have the option to go full day, five days a week, and juniors can expect the same soon, officials said. (Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer)

Barrington High School junior Austin Molinaro knew that going back to in-person learning was going to be different, what with face masks, social distancing and all the rest. He didn’t expect it to be so disheartening.

“I’m not going to lie — it wasn’t fun at all … ” Austin said. “It just felt like a ghost town when you were walking through the hallways.”

 Students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 had the option of starting hybrid learning last week — meaning alternately going to school and learning from home — or sticking with all-virtual learning. Austin is among a minority who returned to Barrington High.

The district has had all-virutal learning this year with the exception of a few days in October. High school Principal Steve McWilliams said families who said they preferred in-person learning dropped from 75% last summer, to just over 60% in October, to 46% in December. For seniors, it’s about 40%, he said.

Because so many are staying home, the district announced Friday that seniors at Barrington High now have the option to go full-day, five days a week. Juniors can expect to have the same option soon, McWilliams said.

So why are so many students, especially seniors, choosing to stay home? A variety of reasons, McWilliams said, adding the same is happening at other suburban high schools.

Read more here.

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Groundhog Days festivities still are on the calendar next week in Woodstock to help the city celebrate the 28th anniversary of the release of the film “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray and filmed in Woodstock, but COVID-19 has caused organizers to scale back the festival.

No official Groundhog Day breakfast will take place this year, and no dinner dance chili cook-off or group movies either, because organizers were unable to host such events safely in compliance with the Restore Illinois and federal COVID-19 guidelines, according to the website woodstockgroundhog.org.

A prognostication still us set to be held, meaning attendees to the city’s Park on the Square downtown can watch whether Woodstock Willie sees his shadow, which would, as legend has it, mean six more weeks of winter weather. That will take place 7 a.m. Feb. 2. Masks and social distancing are required.

The prognostication also will be livestreamed online this year.

Read more here.

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The Observer takes a look back at another year gone by, as we present the most frequently read news stories and editorials in 2020. Click on any title to read and revisit stories from this past year.

Racism allegations follow as plan to move 25 kids into Barrington Hills home stalls

Although the leader of an organization helping disadvantaged minority youths contends race is a factor in his delayed plan to move into a Barrington Hills home with 25 children of color, village officials say the zoning code is the only issue.

This June 30 article received 11 comments, and 12 Facebook shares.

Time to stop giving 220’s Harris passes

A week ago today hundreds of parents and students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 gathered at a rally in Citizens Park to ask the district to allow in-person schooling to resume. Some spoke while others displayed signs such as, “Open our schools for in-person learning,” or “Face 2 Face learning is essential” (seeI am asking for a choice’: Barrington 220 parents, students rally for in-person learning” and “Hundreds turn out for Barrington rally calling for end to remote learning, restart of student sports”).

No one commented on this September 21 editorial, but a record 86 people shared it on Facebook.

220 won’t consider COVID-19 testing at this time (as opposed to New Trier, thus our response

Wednesday District 220 emailed the following notice to the community:

Over the past couple of weeks, the district has been looking at the possibility of using COVID-19 testing as one additional component of several virus mitigation efforts. At the Dec. 1 Board meeting, the Board decided it would not consider using COVID-19 testing at this time due to high costs and the fact that it would not be a full proof [sic] measure in preventing the spread of the virus.  Click here to watch the Board’s full discussion about COVID-19 testing.

New Trier Township High School District 203 did not hesitate at all when in October they announced, “…they will pay up to $1.3 million to conduct COVID-19 saliva screenings for students and staff.” As a result of their proactive measures, some students are back in classroom today, December 4.

There were 2 comments on this December 2 editorial, and 3 shares on Facebook.

Homicide investigation on Old Sutton Rd just south of Otis Rd, Barrington Hills

Barrington Hills police and firefighter/paramedics from Barrington -Countryside FPD responded about 3:34 a.m. Saturday March 7, 2020 to a report that multiple people were shot at or near a home in the block of 300 Old Sutton Road. Police and firefighter/paramedics received a report that there were multiple gunshot victims. At least two victim were transported to a local hospital. At least one victim was possibly dead at the scene.

We got one comment to this March 7 story, but 35 shares on Facebook.

Fact checking

On Monday night, CBS Chicago reported a story that included audio and text stating the following:

“Over 20 acres of tree-lined property nestled in affluent Barrington Hills feature tennis courts and a sprawling home purchased by Terrance Wallace, the InZone Project founder.” (InZone Project Founder Says He’s Been Hit With Red Tape In Efforts To Bring Black And Brown Boys From Chicago To Live In Barrington Hills Mansion.)

There is no recorded public record of a recent sale of the property on 541 Merri Oaks Road. Public records do indicate that the property is currently owned by a Trust and has been under the ownership of the Trust or related parties since 2002.

There were no comments or shares on this July 1 article..

NEW! Solitude Ranch w/Indoor Pool, Event Friendly! $599 per night

Sneak away from the big city for a peaceful stay at ‘Solitude Ranch,’ a vacation rental in Barrington! This ranch is one-of-a-kind, offering 3,567 square feet of space complete with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, an upscale kitchen, sunken den, wall-to-wall windows, and even an indoor pool!

There were 3 comments made about this March 7 ad, but no shares

Barrington District 220 reverses course, switches to online classes only

Reversing course on its plan to let parents choose between in-person and online classes, Barrington Area Unit School District 220 announced Wednesday that it would offer only remote learning when school opens next month.

There was one Facebook share, and 9 comments to this July 29 article (most of which objected to our choice of graphic used).

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Barrington Area Unit District 220 said Thursday it will continue to follow its five-metric plan for reopening schools during COVID-19, a move endorsed by its teacher union. That means the district will not return to hybrid learning next week, as some parents and school board members hoped.

Barrington Area Unit District 220 will not modify its reopening plan but instead continue will all-virtual learning for the foreseeable future, a move endorsed by its teachers union despite a push to reopen from some parents and some school board members.

Three school board members said last week they wanted to move away from the metrics and reopen schools as soon as possible. The topic was discussed at a meeting Monday that included school administrators, two school board members, the Barrington Education Association, which represents teachers, and the Barrington School District Employee Organization, which represents educational support professionals.

The school board met in closed session Wednesday evening to discuss the topic. School Board President Penny Kazmier didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Melissa Atteberry, president of the Barrington Education Association teachers union, said the vast majority of its 715 or so members don’t want to eliminate any of the five reopening metrics, particularly given the current surge of COVID-19 cases across the region.

“We understand this is difficult for parents and for students. It’s difficult for staff and the whole community,” Atteberry said earlier this week.

Charles Parkinson, president of the Barrington School District Employee Organization, declined to comment.

Read (little) more here, but expect no comments.

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District 220 issued the following release this morning:

“November 12, 2020

Dear Barrington 220 Community: 

In our COVID-19 update earlier this week, we shared that we would provide further communication today about the Hybrid status moving forward. 

We wanted to inform you that Barrington 220 will continue to follow our established five metrics. This means the district will remain in the adaptive pause until the data shows it is safe to return to the Hybrid mode.

Please understand that while we had hoped to return to Hybrid on Monday, Nov. 16, the safety of our students and staff must remain our top priority as the virus continues to spread within our community and surrounding communities.

In order to keep everyone informed, we will continue sending out weekly COVID-19 updates on Monday afternoons.”

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Released this afternoon from 220:

“At its Nov. 4 meeting, the Board of Education discussed several key issues regarding the future of the 20-21 school year and agreed to extend the adaptive pause of the Hybrid mode until Monday, Nov. 16. 

The Board has scheduled a special meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 11 for the purpose of having a closed session to discuss employment matters, collective negotiating matters and litigation matters. The district will provide further communication no later than Thursday, Nov. 12 about the Hybrid status moving forward. 

The 20-21 school year discussion also focused on key issues such as:

  • Exposure and liability: The Board and district leaders will be having more conversations next week to explore options of how Barrington 220 can implement a Hybrid plan moving forward, with consideration of exposure and liability as the virus spreads in the community.

  • Re-opening Metrics Adjustment: The Board may consider adjusting the metrics in the future in order to make in-person instruction feasible.

  • Academic Calendar Adjustment: The Board is not considering adjusting the 20-21 academic calendar at this time.

  • Budget Expectations: The Board will consider spending beyond the FY21 budget in order to safely allow students back into school.

To view the entire discussion, watch this video from 1:21:34 thru 3:58:54”

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“The district is at a critical point when decisions must be made about how to move forward with the 20-21 school year, given the information available. This will be the focus of discussion at the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Click here to view the agenda for the meeting.

The Board meeting will begin at 7pm at BMS-Station Campus. Due to public health guidelines, capacity will be limited to 50 people in the room, however anyone who wishes to sign up for public comment may do so. If capacity is reached, you will be asked to wait in an overflow room and then be called in for public comment. Following district protocol, all visitors must wear masks and will be required to complete an on site COVID-19 symptom screening prior to entering the building.

As a reminder, you can view the live stream of all Board of Education meetings by visiting the Board’s YouTube channel.”

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“Dear Barrington 220 Community,

We are now six days into our adaptive pause of the Hybrid mode and while Barrington 220 desperately would like to return to Hybrid on Monday, Nov. 9, we wanted you to know that as of today we will most likely be extending the pause until Monday, Nov. 16. A final decision will be made later this week, after further discussion at the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 4. 

We have been reviewing the data from the Northwestern Medicine dashboard, as well as the situation at each of our school buildings. As of today, the number of new cases (Metric #1) per 100,000 persons for each of our zip codes except 60021 continues to exceed our Step 3 (Hybrid) threshold of 200. In addition, our positivity rate (Metric #2) is moving in the wrong direction for two of our zip codes. Here are the latest numbers as of 11/1/2020:

Our COVID-19 dashboard shows the daily number of positive cases and quarantine cases among students and staff at each building in the district. 

  • A positive case is counted on the day it is reported. Every day after, it is placed in the quarantine category. 
  • Quarantine cases are students and staff not attending school due to testing positive or exposure to a positive case.” 

To view the “D220 Metric Status,” click here.

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Marengo’s Zion Lutheran School has not reported a single case of the virus among students or staff in the 54 days they have been in school

Leaders of local private schools told McHenry County Board members that in-person learning has been safe and successful for them, while many public school districts have chosen to heed guidance from the McHenry County Department of Health about returning to remote learning.

With much frustration and fear coming from community members who support either in-person or remote learning, Public Health and Community Services Committee Chairman Chris Christensen said he invited the local private school leaders to Thursday’s meeting for a fruitful, level-headed exchange of ideas.

It’s about “talking to some of the private schools that are having such success in keeping their kids in school,” said Christensen, who represents District 3 on the County Board. “COVID-19 doesn’t understand the difference between a public school and a private school necessarily, but I know the numbers can be different.”

Among the invited guests were Dan Bertrand and Merri-Lynne Seaburg, co-principals of Marengo’s Zion Lutheran School, who said they have not reported a single case of the virus among students or staff in the 54 days they have been in school.

“There is no reason why you cannot have kids in school right now,” Bertrand said. “There is no place safer for a kid to be than in the schools. … The virus is not being transmitted inside of schools.”

Bertrand referenced a Brown University study titled “Schools Aren’t Super-spreaders,” in which data on 200,000 students in 47 states from the end of September was analyzed to reveal an average COVID-19 infection rate of 0.13% of students and 0.24% of teachers.

Read more here.

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