DeKALB – In a letter to parents Wednesday morning, the DeKalb school district announced it will follow health department recommendations and remain in remote learning through at least Jan. 18.
DeKalb followed other county districts in making the announcement, though District 428, the county's largest district, hasn't held most in-person classes since the pandemic began, with only select special needs students attending classes in-person.
The district has twice tried to bring back elementary students for in-person learning but has been delayed both times.
"We understand that this is an extremely difficult time for everyone," interim superintendents Ray Lechner and Griff Powell said in the letter. "It is our sincere hope that we are able to return to in-person learning on Jan. 19."
The letter also stated extracurriculars would be suspended. Practices for bowling, cheerleading, dance and boys swimming started Monday, but the IHSA announced the winter season would be suspended starting Friday.
The DeKalb County Health Department sent a letter to districts on Friday recommending an adaptive pause, or switch to full remote. Every district in the county except DeKalb was offering some level of wide-scale in-person learning.
Signed by Public Health Administrator Lisa Gonzalez, the letter cited metrics in the county amid the current virus surge, specifically the 512 new cases per 100,000 for the first week in November, and the 13.4% rolling positivity rate, up from 10.8% the week prior.
"Our local numbers are not improving, but instead the situation becomes more serious by the week," Gonzalez said in the letter. "Due to the increasing community spread of the virus, DeKalb County Health Department is recommending a pause to in-person learning beginning Thanksgiving break and until January 19, 2021. We are making the above recommendation for local school board consideration due to the increase in local Covid-19 cases, local hospital utilization, the assumption that families will gather with family members outside of their immediate household, and an overall increase risk of transmission in the community. "
Hinckley-Big Rock, Hiawatha and Sycamore all made announcements Tuesday that they would abide by the recommendation. Genoa-Kingston could not reach a decision at its board meeting Tuesday and will have a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. Friday to continue discussion.
Indian Creek is expected to decide at its board meeting Wednesday.