Students return to in-person classes

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — School kicked off today for some students in central Illinois, and many of them are back in person for the first time since March. Students at St. Thomas More High School in Champaign had the option to stay remote, but nearly 200 of them wanted to come back. Both options include their fair share of adjustments.

“They walked in, were met immediately by teachers at the back doors, and they took their temperature,” said mother Shelly Damore. Her son is a freshman at St. Thomas More. “The fact that he came home with a positive attitude and said that it was a great day makes me feel wonderful as a parent.”

St. Thomas More Principal Sister Bridget Martin says they made a lot of changes to make sure those who returned are as safe as possible.

“The masks are required by everyone at all times,” she explained. “We’ve got two stairwells. We’ve got one going up and one going down.” She went on to say, “The desks are all six feet apart, and those that we aren’t able to get six feet apart are at least three feet. And most of those will have patricians as well.”

Students at St. Teresa in Decatur will start classes on Friday.

“Our plan is to treat our students that come in the door as if they’re covid-19 positive,” explained principal Larry Daly. That means a lot of changes to their normal routine.

“We’ve eliminated congregation points, like our vending machines. We don’t have lockers right now,” he said. “We’ve also gotten shields that we’ve been building ourselves with Plexiglas for teachers as another barrier they can use. Once they’re behind the shield, they can remove their masks while they teach.”

St. Teresa also gave students the option to go fully remote. Out of their 222 students, about 25 chose remote learning for the first nine weeks.

There is a risk of changes if schools have too many covid-19 cases. For Champaign County, if a student tests positive, their classroom could be asked to quarantine. Public health leaders say they’ll work with schools on an individual basis.

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