garden hills

From left, ACTIONS Program teachers Karen Snook, Jeremy Robush and Caitlin Jenkins escort their last student to his ride and verify the start of remote learning with his family during the last day of school before remote learning starts on Monday, Nov. 15 for all Unit 4 students due to the rise in cases of Covid-19. At Garden Hills in Champaign on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020.

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During a 40-minute Zoom call with local school administrators Friday, the head of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District made this much abundantly clear:

“Julie Pryde informed Champaign County superintendents that it was actually still our decision whether or not we stayed in school,” St. Joseph-Ogden’s Brian Brooks said, “which was not how the message was delivered to us yesterday.”

A day after Pryde recommended that any schools conducting any form of in-person learning pivot to all-remote mode as soon as possible — given rising coronavirus numbers and community spread — districts announced a variety of plans:

— Joining Champaign’s Unit 4 in switching to all-remote effective next week: the four elementary schools and junior high in the Rantoul City Schools district and all 42 schools in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.

Rantoul Superintendent Michelle Ramage is recommending sticking with a full remote plan until Jan. 19 — “to ensure at least 14 days from New Year’s Eve,” she wrote in a Friday letter to parents — but the school board will make the final decision at Thursday’s meeting.

Jan. 19 is also the return date for six area Catholic schools, according to a plan spelled out by diocese Superintendent Sharon Weiss.

— Both St. Joseph Grade School and St. Joseph-Ogden High School plan to continue in-person learning all of next week.

The grade school will shift to all-remote the Monday after Thanksgiving — “It is our hope that we can return to in-person the beginning of January,” Superintendent Todd Pence said Friday — while the high school is still in evaluation mode.

“We have put out a plan for our students, parents and staff to potentially go to full remote learning after Thanksgiving, with students coming back to in-person instruction on our current hybrid plan on Jan. 5,” said Brooks, who expects a decision next week.

— Those Mahomet-Seymour students who chose the in-person learning option will be back in school next week. While post-Thanksgiving plans remain TBD, Superintendent Lindsey Hall wrote in a letter to parents, “in the best interest of our students, as superintendent, it is my hope to remain open and following the hybrid plan we’ve been following until Dec. 18.”

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