New Trier High School returns to partial in-person learning, Lincoln-Way return to remote instruction

NEW LENOX, Ill. (WLS) -- Suburban schools have grappled with the decision to bring students back in buildings or stay remote.

New Trier High School returned to partial in-person learning Tuesday morning. The Winnetka school offered students saliva testing for COVID-19.

By contrast, the southwest suburbs, about 600 students are in quarantine in the Lincoln-Way school district, according to district officials. The district announced they will return to remote learning beginning Thursday because of a rise in COVID-19 cases.

"It's either stay open or shut down. It's very sad because in the end, the kids lose, and I don't think they get enough learning sitting there on the computer at home," said Colleen Rosko, whose nephew is a junior at Lincoln-Way East High School.

Christophe Gsell sent his daughter to a local grade school and said so far, the school's plan to keep kids in class and safe has worked for them.

"They implemented all of the procedures. We check the kids every morning before they go to school, and if they are safe to go we send them to school, and they have limited number of kids in the bus as well, so it feels safe for now," Gsell said.

The school district said they hope to return to a hybrid program, which they call "blended learning," by Monday, Dec. 7.

In a letter from the superintendent, Lincoln-Way parents district-wide were warned of an increase in COVID-19 cases and exposure in all three of their schools.

The letter highlights that there was little to no evidence of transmission during the school day. Majority of cases have been traced to social gatherings or family settings.

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County health officials emphasize the need to follow safety measures as COVID-19 cases rise.



County health officials are frustrated by the scenario. They said safety measures are more important than ever and had words directed toward parents.

'The adults need to be seen wearing their masks and wearing them properly. The adults need to be seen showing concern for social distancing, showing concern for cleanliness and washing hand frequently, said Steve Brandy, Will County Health Department.

Brady says while schools have put safety measures in place, students are not immune to COVID-19, especially if people in the community are not being disciplined.

"The second wave is here. We know that and this is scary, anybody not scared is not paying attention," Brandy said.

Schools in Maine Township District 207 in the Northwest suburbs returned to in-person learning Tuesday morning. This was an option for any student who signed up for in-person learning. The three high schools in the district stayed open in some form since the beginning of the school year.

Maine Township Superintendent Ken Wallace said even as COVID-19 cases increased, the schools have been safe.

"Everyone's wearing PPE, social distancing. We've got directional markers for which way kids can go and to separate even in the hallways," Wallace said.

Wallace said the district still has a significant number of students and parents who want schools to be open for in-person learning, and officials are trying to do that to the best of their abilities.
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