Macomb schools expected to return fully in-person soon

By DEVIN BROOKS, Reporter

MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — Macomb School District is working to return students to the classrooms five days a week before the end of the school year.  

Superintendent Patrick Twomey announced a change in the district’s COVID-19 plan on Wednesday, March 10. 

District officials are set to bring students back to the daily face-to-face classes at the start of the fourth quarter, which begins March 29. 

Twomey said this comes after state health and education leaders changed its social distancing guidance from at least 6 feet to 3 to 6 feet, when possible. 

“While this pandemic has caused a great deal of uncertainty in our lives, we are up to the challenge of our students returning to five days a week of face-to-face instruction,” Twomey said. “To remain face-to-face, our local and regional metrics must remain low.”

Online-only learners will stay online for the remainder of the school year.

“There is one area of concern that is worth noting,” Twomey said. “In the A/B model we have had very little quarantining of students when a positive case presented itself.  While the IDPH reduced the social distancing, they have not changed the rules concerning quarantining.  So, when there is a positive case in the school, it will result in significant numbers of students being quarantined. At the elementary level it would likely mean the entire class and the teacher would then teach that class remotely for the two weeks they are quarantined.”  

Twomey said the district has been under a hybrid system since the fall semester. He said this spring, high school teachers have also been live streaming classes five days a week. 

Twomey said every school in the district now has a team of social workers, counselors and psychologists on staff. 

In addition, Twomey said the district has begun to roll out a new mental health program called Closegap for students to seek support in the midst of COVID-19. 

According to Twomey, cases of COVID-19 across the district have remained low.

“Is our system of delivery perfect? No, it’s not,” Twomey said. “However, when I look at what other districts around the state are able to accomplish, I would say ours is pretty darn good.”

As of Monday, March 8, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced that schools under phase 4 of COVID-19 guidelines can have up to 20 percent capacity for outdoor events. Indoor sports remain at 50 spectators. 

Graduation plans for Macomb schools are being discussed. There is no word on COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the district.