The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District on Thursday recommended that Champaign County schools suspend in-person learning through at least Jan. 5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Region 6 — which includes Champaign County — has a positivity rate above 12 percent, CUPHD administrator Julie Pryde said, which includes “exponential growth” as a result of extensive community spread.
“These are not cases coming from the (University of Illinois),” Pryde said. “Most of this spread is being caused by gatherings” such as weddings, dinner parties and a variety of informal gatherings — “just family and friends getting together.” That includes bars and restaurants that are not following CUPHD guidelines regarding indoor seating.
As a result, CUPHD is making a number of recommendations, which include the new guidelines regarding kindergarten through 12th grade schools. It also urged faith-based organizations to go to remote programming only; called on bars and restaurants to follow the current guidelines which do not allow indoor service; and community members to refrain from gathering with anyone from outside their own household in coming weeks, including Thanksgiving.
“It’s just not a good time to be gathered together in any way,” Pryde said.
Champaign Unit 4 was among the school systems which recently switched to a schedule that include partial in-person learning. There’s no indication that increased time in school buildings created the recent spike.
Unit 4 announced Thursday it would move to full remote learning effective Nov. 16. All students should bring home personal items from school Friday. All sports and in-person student activities are cancelled until further guidance is provided from health officials.
Unit 7 School District has informed families that they will transition to full remote learning after Thanksgiving; its buildings will remain in session until Friday, November 20. Rantoul City Schools has chosen to implement a full remote plan for all students and staff starting Tuesday, November 17.
Countryside School, a private K-8 school in Champaign, had already planned to move to remote learning beginning Nov. 30; its last day of in-person instruction for the semester will be Nov. 20.
“I want to be clear the schools in our county are doing an amazing job,” Pryde said. “But once we get to this level of positivity these are the recommended steps. If people are going to continue to have weddings and parties and pretend that we’re not in a pandemic, these are the steps that we’re going to have to take.”