SALT FORK, Ill. (WCIA) — Four cases of COVID-19 within the first week of school in the Salt Fork district have prompted officials to “temporarily suspend in-person learning at Salt Fork High School and transition the high school to remote learning for the next two weeks.”
District superintendent Phil Cox said in an email to parents that the newest case of COVID-19 is the third the high school has marked this week.
And while that number may seem low to some, Cox said the school has “a significant number of high school students that are quarantined” as well as “additional students on a precautionary exclusion that we excluded based on exposure to a high school student that demonstrated severe COVID-like symptoms.”
“I want to emphasize that the suspension of in-person learning at the high school is temporary,” Cox wrote. “Whether or not we are able to reopen the high school on Monday, September 14 will depend on whether or not we continue to have positive cases among our high school students.”
The temporary suspension of in-person learning also extends to all high school athletics.
Cox said it remains unclear to health officials with the Vermilion County Health Department whether “the virus is spreading due to exposure at school or in the community.”
“We are calling on all high school students to stay home for the next two weeks and limit contacts with others,” he continued. “If high school students continue to congregate around the community in groups, I fear the virus will simply continue to spread, and we will be unable to resume in-person learning and extracurricular activities on September 14.”
In-person learning will continue at the junior high and both elementary schools since the impact of positive cases there has been “minimal.” Still, Cox said, “parents of junior high and elementary students also need to make wise choices so that the virus does not spread to those schools.”
“This was a difficult decision to make because we value the benefits of in-person learning and extracurricular activities. However, we feel that we need to take action to stop the spread,” the email to parents read. “Please do your part so that we can continue to offer in-person learning at the junior high and the elementary schools and so that we can resume in-person learning at the high school on September 14.”
As of Thursday afternoon, VCHD officials reported a total of 303 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. There were five new cases confirmed that same afternoon.