Some Schools Already Online
Increased COVID-19 cases cause Catholic schools to move to e-learning for holiday season
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
November 19, 2020
DIOCESE—Just after the Rockford Diocese Department of Educational Services announced an e-learning schedule to help circumvent the spread of the coronavirus after the Christmas holiday, schools began reporting increased cases of the virus.
 
Principals were advised that if their school met one or more of the following criteria they should contact the Catholic Education Office to discuss the possibility of moving to remote learning before Christmas break. E-learning may be necessary if:
 
– Two or more grade-levels are required to quarantine;
 
– Schools have difficulty covering in-class teaching or supervision because of the number of staff in quarantine or isolation, or the inability to secure substitute teachers;
 
n Five or more positive COVID cases (students or staff) have been identified within a school building. (As defined by the Illinois Department of Public Health, five or more cases linked to a common location during a 14-day period is considered an outbreak.) 
 
– The local health department recommends remote learning.
 
With positivity rates in Illinois now at 15% or higher, schools are reporting increased cases of the coronavirus in students and staff and a shortage of substitutes for sick staff. 
 
Diocesan Catholic schools that have moved from in-person to e-learning at press-time are:
 
– St. Margaret Mary, Algonquin — remote learning from Nov. 13 through Nov. 29 with a planned return to on-site instruction on Nov. 30. 
 
– Montini, McHenry — remote learning from from Nov. 12 through Nov. 29 with a planned return to on-site instruction on Nov. 30. 
 
– St. John the Baptist, Johnsburg — remote learning from Nov. 16 through Dec. 4 with a planned return to on-site instruction on Dec. 7. 
 
n St. Mary, DeKalb — remote learning from Nov. 30 through Dec. 11 with a planned return to on-site instruction from Dec. 14 through Dec. 18. Christmas break will begin on Dec. 18. The return for the week of Dec. 14–18 is so teachers can give end of quarter tests and assessments and do further planning for the return to remote learning beginning on Jan. 4. 
 
According to Michael Kagan, superintendent of Catholic schools in the Rockford Diocese, “The biggest issue that St. Mary (in DeKalb) is facing is a lack of substitute teachers. They are down to just one or two. Most people on their sub list have either decided not to sub because of COVID or have taken other jobs, which puts the school in a very precarious position in addition to those who are sick or quarantining due to positive tests.”
 
Kagan told The Observer on Nov. 13 that he and assistant superintendent Vito DeFrisco met with the principals of St. Bridget in Loves Park, Holy Family, St. Rita and All Saints Schools in Rockford to discuss their COVID-19 situations.
 
Due to an increase in positive tests and those already in quarantine, the schools will all move to remote learning beginning on Nov. 23 and continue through Jan. 18, 2021.
 
On-site instruction will begin again for the Rockford-area schools on Jan. 19. Additionally, each principal discussed the situation with his or her pastor or executive pastor and has received his support, Kagan said. 
 
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