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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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The Honey Lake Bee Company is one of the vendors that brave the cold to display their products at the Palatine Winter Farmers Market

Palatine’s Winter Farmers Market this year will be held as an outdoor drive-through, allowing more vendors and safe social distancing during COVID-19, organizers said.

The winter market will kick off Nov. 7, a week after the last summer farmers market on Saturday. The summer market averaged more than 1,000 customers per day, with vendors saying they had their best year of sales, said Marge Duer, the market’s founder who now leads the market committee for the Sister Cities Association of Palatine.

The winter market will be held outside the Palatine train station, 137 W. Wood St. — where it’s typically held indoors — and will offer a variety of goods, from savory to sweet and fresh to frozen. Having it outside will allow for 17 vendors, more than the 10 or so that typically fit inside the train station, Duer said. Knife-sharpening also will be available there.

The winter market takes place 10 a.m. to noon on the first and third Saturday of the month — except Jan. 2. — from November to April. Orders should be placed by noon on Wednesday that week.

Read more here, or visit the Palatine Winter Farmers Market web page here.

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Editorial note: September 25th we reported, “220’s Harris announces target start date for return to in-person Hybrid moved up to Oct. 19.

Barrington Area Unit District 220 students will return to some in-person learning Oct. 19 — a week earlier than initially planned — school officials said Tuesday.

Students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 can go back to school Oct. 19 — a week earlier than anticipated — with a hybrid model of in-person and distance learning, if all proceeds well, district officials said.

About 68% of families in the district said they plan to send kids back to school with hybrid learning — a blend of in-person and remote learning — while 31% are opting to continue with only remote learning, which the district will provide for whoever wants it. About 1% remain undecided.

However, the breakdown varies a lot by school, Superintendent Brian Harris told the district’s board of education Tuesday night.

Barrington High School and the two middle schools largely mirror the district average. But at Hough Elementary School, as many as 89% of families are choosing hybrid learning, while at Sunny Hill Elementary, only 30% are doing so.

A total of 44 certified staff members asked for a leave of absence after the district announced its hybrid plan, Harris said. Fifteen of those positions were filled and nine are being filled, but 20 staff members that teach in “highly specialized areas” are hard to replace, Harris said.

The district will continue looking for replacements, but meanwhile the plan is to reassign or hire staff members to supervise students in classrooms while their teachers continue virtual instruction, he said.

Nine people, mostly parents, spoke at the board meeting Tuesday to advocate reopening immediately for full in-person learning. They cited hardship for families and the negative effects of virtual learning on students’ performance and mental health.

Our district is spiraling downward. Our children are regressing and losing knowledge,” parent Heather Ewalt said. Ewalt, also a substitute teacher in the district, said teachers say in private they have the same concerns.

Read on here.

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Students returned for the new school year at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights on Aug. 24, but new positive COVID-19 cases over the weekend led officials Monday to temporarily switch to remote learning.

Six weeks after starting the school year in person, St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights closed its doors Monday and switched to remote learning because of a “higher than acceptable” COVID-19 incidence rate within the school community, officials said.

New positive COVID-19 test cases among those in the school were reported over the weekend and during the overnight hours Monday, reaching “our threshold for keeping our students and faculty safe,” school President Brian Liedlich and Principal Karen Love wrote in a letter to parents.

School spokesman Jim Mitchell did not say whether the positive COVID-19 tests came from students or faculty members.

Officials plan to resume classes in two weeks, on Oct. 19, but said conditions will dictate that decision.

For now, all classes are remote, and students will be expected to follow their block schedule via Zoom video conferencing. All extracurricular activities, including athletic practices and games, are suspended.

Most of St. Viator’s 837 students chose the school’s in-person learning option, with a few choosing remote, when the academic year began Aug. 24.

Read more here.

Editorial note: They made a good go of it for six (6) weeks, and if all goes well they’ll be back in classrooms in two weeks.

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The Barrington CUSD 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 7:00 PM at 515 West Main StA copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

This will be the last scheduled meeting of the Board prior to some students returning to classrooms on October 19th (see220’s Harris announces target start date for return to in-person Hybrid moved up to Oct. 19”). Those wishing to watch the meeting remotely can do so by clicking here.

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