"Social interaction is necessary not only to help students collaborate in learning but also to keep us mentally stable," said Cayden Torsberg, a student at Hinsdale Central High School. "Over the past eight months, I know more kids suffering from depression than I do COVID-19."
Those students and parents gathered on the steps of Hinsdale Central High School Thursday to call on the district to reinstitute in-person learning. It comes on the heels of a similar demonstration Tuesday night in Wheaton.
The students and parents said they're confident the district can create a safe environment in the school for learning.
"If the survival rates for someone 18 or younger is 99.9-percent, then I ask the question why? Why are we still isolated and sitting behind a screen when other schools are having in-person learning in the next town over?" wondered Michael Brescia, a Hinsdale Central student.
The DuPage County Health Department guidelines say that for broader in-person learning to occur, the county's test positivity rate needs to be at or below 5%. It's currently at 5.5%.
Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday that test positivity rates statewide would need to come down significantly for all fall sports to be allowed and for state guidelines on in-person learning to be eased.
And he pushed back on the argument that young people are generally asymptomatic, saying that makes them prone to spreading the virus unknowingly to vulnerable populations.
"You should take a look. Our hospitalizations in the state are rising, and this is problematic, so we're watching very closely, even though we've got our positivity rates moving in the right direction in many regions, that hasn't kept people from going to the hospital," Pritzker said.
ABC7 reached out to officials at Hinsdale Township High School District 86 for comment on the demonstration, but a spokesperson declined to give a statement.
At a school board meeting Thursday night, District 86 officials shared plans for a "phased-in approach" to returning to in-person instruction.