A central Illinois school district has extended students' winter break by one week to give administrators more time prepare for in-person learning as the omicron variant fuels a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Peoria Public Schools said Sunday in a Facebook post that students' winter break would be extended through the week of Jan. 3, but all students would return for classes on Jan. 10, the (Peoria) Journal Star reported.
Those days will be made up at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, said Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat.
"In the two weeks since our winter break began, an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases both locally and nationally has occurred due to the emergence of the omicron variant," she said.
The one-week delay will allow the staff "to prepare for continued in-person learning in the face of this new variant," Desmoulin-Kherat added.
All scheduled high school athletics events will be held this week and the details of restricted spectator guidelines will be communicated by each high school. But middle school athletics and activities will not be held this week.
The district will offer “peace of mind” COVID-19 testing to staff members from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Jan. 4 and Thursday, Jan. 6 at the three high schools.
Employees who have tested positive during the break are asked to contact human resources to give the district a sense of what their staffing levels will be.