Metro East school returns to virtual learning after COVID-19 outbreak

Illinois

O’FALLON, Ill. — Central Elementary School in O’Fallon, Illinois, will switch to remote learning for the next two weeks after dozens of students tested positive for COVID-19.

Dawn Elser, the Superintendent of Central School District 104, said 37 students have tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday. She said the outbreak started in a kindergarten classroom.

“It’s very challenging,” Elser said. “We’ve been very proactive. In all our classrooms, we wash our hands, we social distance. We had a very good handle on it.”

Elser said going virtual was the best plan to keep the virus from spreading.

“I know it’s very difficult on the parents, but when the spread is over 10% of our population and in 16 of 22 classrooms, we felt it was best for the safety of the students and the staff to go remote,” Elser said.

For one parent, it’s been a headache.

“Having to go remote, it’s just going to ruin the whole holiday. It ruins everything,” said single mom Katelyn Silva.

Silva said the timing couldn’t be worse to have her two daughters learning at home again. Her first-grader, Natalie, and pre-schooler, Jaslyn, have gone remote since Monday after the district said there was a COVID outbreak.

“I’m very concerned we’re actually going to get tested, and my neighbors their kids have tested positive,” Silva said. “I’m just like it’s hitting too close to home right now.”

Silva received a letter from the district, saying: “Due to the high number of positive cases, Central only will be moving to remote learning starting Nov. 15 through Thanksgiving Break, Nov. 28.”

Superintendent Elser said the district will offer optional testing once students return to the classroom after Thanksgiving.

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