As Illinois hits new records for covid infections, hospitalizations and deaths on a seemingly daily basis, more schools across the state are closing and going to remote learning.
Even without a mandate from Gov. JB Pritzker, who has said he won’t be issuing a statewide shutdown of schools, districts across the state are shutting down due to rampant outbreaks not only among students but among available teachers and staff, leaving them desperately short of staffing to continue in-person learning.

With the virus sweeping across the state, there are increasing calls for schools to shut down and go to remote learning. On Tuesday, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to switch to remote learning, shutting down schools citywide.

As Covid Ravages Illinois, Schools Quickly Going To Remote Learning

Illinois covid numbers have hit the highest they have ever been during the entire time of the pandemic. The Quad-Cities region’s positivity rate is over 20 percent — a new record.

“We have no choice but to cancel classes,” CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said. “We’ve already sent another notice to families. As I had conversations with our principals and said ‘what is the best path forward,’ they came back to me and said, ‘CEO, we got to continue to be the champions, and to advocate for in-person instruction.’”

“Right now, going into schools puts us at risk, puts our students and family at risk of contracting the coronavirus,” Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said. “That’s the simple truth of the matter.”

They’re not alone, as dozens of schools statewide are beginning to go to remote learning.

As Covid Ravages Illinois, Schools Quickly Going To Remote Learning

72 District 41 students wearing masks during a recent school activity. RIMSD 41 announced this week it would remain doing in-person learning.

This week, school district U-46 in Elgin announced that five of its schools — Highland Elementary, Huff Elementary, Independence Early Learning Center, Parkwood Elementary and Ridge Circle Elementary — will be closed due to staffing shortages. In addition, Lincoln-Way District 210 announced Monday that all of its schools will be in remote learning due to staffing shortages. West Chicago District 33 also has its students in remote learning due to covid cases among students and staff, as more than 10 percent of the entire district workforce is out with covid.
Niles School District 219 moved to remote learning for the next two weeks. District 300 in suburban Chicago announced that they would be closing their schools. In a statement, the district superintendent noted, “District staff will use January 3rd to better understand the Omicron Variant’s full impact on staffing and student attendance. Additionally, we hope to receive clarification on the updated quarantine guidelines from the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) based upon the latest CDC quarantine guidelines. ”

Buffalo Tri-City School District in central Illinois has gone to remote learning through at least Jan. 10.

Virginia School District in central Illinois has announced it will go to remote learning as well, as schools in that district have 32.9 percent of students testing positive for covid or having had close exposure to someone with the virus.

In addition, Pike County’s Pleasant Hill School district in central Illinois is also going remote, due to an outbreak of cases of both covid and the flu.

As Covid Ravages Illinois, Schools Quickly Going To Remote Learning

Various members of the Chicago Teachers Union logged into their remote classrooms this week as a sign of solidarity in wanting to move to remote learning to stop the rampant spread of covid among students and teachers.

Several colleges across the state announced they’ll be going to remote learning at least to begin the next semester in January. Northwestern, DePaul and University of Chicago in Cook County will all begin as remote learning, as will University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign in downstate Champaign and Illinois State University. In addition, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has told students, faculty and staff that they must test negative for covid-19 within 48 hours of returning to campus, including those who have been vaccinated, and those who have not been vaccinated will have to continue to be tested weekly.

Schools in several major cities around the country including Atlanta and Detroit have also opted to go to remote learning, as many educational systems nationwide decide to shut down in-person instruction amidst record covid numbers.

Statewide there are no plans to reinstate online learning as the decision is typically made at a school district level, Gov. JB Pritzker said in his news conference Monday.

As Covid Ravages Illinois, Schools Quickly Going To Remote Learning

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker

Illinois continues to storm into worse covid territory, setting new records again for covid infections and hospitalizations, as Chicago teachers vote to go to remote learning and other schools around the state begin to lean towards closing schools and going remote in the midst of the massive covid surge.

Illinois set new records for covid cases and hospitalizations Wednesday, with 32,279 new cases of the virus, 79 covid-related deaths and 6,842 covid-positive individuals hospitalized across the state, according to the newest numbers from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Both are the highest numbers since the pandemic began.

To put it into perspective, prior to two weeks ago, the state had never reported more than 21,000 cases in a single-day, according to IDPH data.

The state has now reported more than 30,000 on three of the last seven days, according to IDPH data.

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The state is averaging 25,183 cases of covid per day and 60 covid-related deaths per day over the past week.

In all, 2,295,445 cases of the virus have been reported since the pandemic began, with 28,156 deaths linked to covid and 3,260 fatalities reported as “probable” covid deaths.

Illinois’ positivity rate is now at 14.2% in total, and 18.4% of patients tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours.

For ongoing coverage of this situation, continue to follow QuadCities.com.

As Covid Ravages Illinois, Schools Quickly Going To Remote Learning
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
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