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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Schools in Illinois are operating much as they did before COVID-19 restrictions. Students in Glen Carbon and Edwardsville are in class. Across the river, in Missouri, many students are learning from home.

“I wouldn’t want to be a parent in St. Louis right now,” said Emily Mortland. “It’s sad, friends of ours, who aren’t getting any education in person. They’re just stuck to virtual or people are making the switch to private.”

Belleville Catholic Diocese Superintendant Jonathan Birdsong says they worked hard to come up with a way to bring 6,000 students back.

“Everybody knows that being in the classroom is the best. Students realize maybe they didn’t dislike school as much as they thought they did,” said Birdsong.

Birdsong says that enrollment is up but first they had to come up with a safe plan to return in person. How did they do it? They are using an app called “miinehealth” that monitors symptoms, and temperature checks, while tracking cases.

“Probably the biggest game-changer. When we figured that piece out then we could start talking about social distancing and masks and stuff,” said Birdsong.

Birdsong says families respect the rules and understand the changes.

“The classrooms probably look more like than they’re supposed to at this point. We’ve learned that’s the safest way to do instruction, so there’s less moving around the room,” said Birdsong.

The impact of many open schools on COVID-19 cases in Madison and St. Clair County is difficult to determine right now. The number of cases was already increasing before the start of school and has been declining more recently.