coronavirus illinois

South Side School Temporarily Switches to Remote Learning After Students Test Positive for COVID-19

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A South Side Catholic school is temporarily reversing course on its plan to conduct in-person instruction after four students tested positive for coronavirus.

Students had returned to classrooms at St. Rita of Cascia school on Chicago’s South Side last week, but they will now head back home for at least two weeks of remote learning after at least four cases of coronavirus were diagnosed within the school community.

Parents at the school received an email Thursday saying that two students had tested positive for the virus, and that the school would be switching back to a remote learning program.

St. Rita will use remote learning plans until Sept. 4, then will resume a hybrid plan that involves in-person instruction beginning the following Tuesday.

Even though parents say they weren’t surprised by positive tests, they were very pleased with how quickly school officials acted.

“I wasn’t too surprised,” Dr. Lydia Falbo, a parent at the school, said. “I’m really happy with the way St. Rita is handling the situation. They’ve been so communicative, and I’m really happy my son is a student there.”

After the initial two positive tests, school President Dr. James Quaid told NBC 5 that two more cases were confirmed on Friday. He says that the school’s decision to quickly switch to remote learning was made in an attempt to minimize the impact of the situation, and to prevent further spread of the virus.

Even with the abrupt change in plans, many parents at the school are pleased with the institution’s actions.

“I’m really happy that they tried to start and to at least get kids on campus for a couple of days,” Falbo said.

Guiseppe Falbo, Lydia Falbo’s son, says he’s happy that he was able to start the school year in person, and is looking forward to getting back into the classroom.

According to the Falbo’s, students wore masks at all times, and sat in desks that were at least six feet apart from one another. Temperature checks were also conducted upon entering the school building, and hallway traffic was modified to allow for social distancing and to prevent congregating.

“Going back and having precautions was very different,” Falbo said.

School officials and parents are hopeful that their school’s learning plan, and quick and decisive action when needed, will be the model for other schools moving forward, as many other Catholic schools are preparing to begin classes in the coming days.

“Administrators and staff are working so hard for kids, and they really want this to work,” Dr. Falbo said. “So please be flexible….and understand that things are going to happen. Just take things day by day.”

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