Kankakee High School (copy) (copy)

Kankakee High School

KANKAKEE — Kankakee School District 111 will extend its remote and hybrid learning options through Jan. 28 instead of returning to fully in-person learning next week as previously planned, Superintendent Genevra Walters said Thursday.

A modified learning plan went into effect on Dec. 9 in response to district’s rising COVID-19 numbers.

The plan was to reinstate the “Phase 4” procedures that were in effect last school year, in which remote and hybrid learning options were offered.

The plan includes that students who request or need it will have a minimum of two days of in-person instruction each week.

It was set to remain in effect until Jan. 18.

Since the start of the school year in August, 180 students and 117 adults have tested positive for COVID-19, and 142 students and four adults are currently in quarantine, Walters reported during Monday’s school board meeting.

She also said during the meeting that Phase 4 procedures could be extended past Jan. 18 based on rising COVID-19 numbers in the region, but that it had not been discussed or decided yet.

She confirmed with the Daily Journal on Thursday that the plan was being extended through Jan. 28.

MORE COVID-19 CONCERNS

A student took the microphone during the public comment section of Monday’s meeting to ask about the district’s efforts to keep COVID-19 cases in check.

The student also asked why the district was not doing the test-to-stay program that other local districts have been doing, including in Bourbonnais Elementary, Bradley Elementary and Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School.

Test-to-stay allows students who are close contacts to remain in school if they test negative on incremental days after exposure.

“We do not want to go fully remote because of the mental health concerns and the social-emotional needs of many of our students,” Walters said in response to the student’s questions. “We want all of our students to have an opportunity to come into the building at least one or two days a week; we would really like to encourage our high school students — especially those who need help completing their work — to come in at least two or three times a week.”

Walters also said the district would be in conversation with the Kankakee County Health Department to determine whether the test-to-stay program would be recommended for the district.

“The only concern we have with test-to-stay right now, is that our local health department is concerned about the numbers of COVID locally, so we want to be as careful and conservative as possible,” she said.

FALLING BEHIND ON WORK

Also during Monday’s board meeting, Walters said student work completion continues to be an issue, particularly at the junior high and high school.

The district’s focus for the rest of the school year will be to provide grade-level learning materials and give “timely, meaningful feedback” to students regarding their assignments, she said.

Meanwhile, adults in the community are asked to talk with their students about completing their schoolwork and follow up with their school to make sure the work is being done.

“We’re asking and pleading with the community and the families to simply ask their students, ‘Are you doing your work?’” Walters said.

Reporter

Stephanie Markham joined the Daily Journal in February 2020 as the education reporter. She focuses on school boards as well as happenings and trends in local schools. She earned her B.A. in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.