Hersey High School in Arlington Heights experiencing COVID-19 surge; 155 students quarantined

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- A dozen students at John Hersey High School in northwest suburban Arlington Heights are home sick Tuesday with COVID-19.

"It changes every day. We quarantine efficiently and keep our building as safe as possible," said Hersey Principal Gordon Sisson.

The surge in cases at the District 214 school started last week.

It prompted the administration to put more than 100 students in a required quarantine.

"We roughly have about 155 people that are currently on quarantine. That includes anyone who has been in close contact as defined by our protocols and guidelines for 15 or more in a 48-hour period," said Sisson. "We exercise a great amount of caution in that to keep the building as safe as possible."

Officials said they believe the increase in cases is coming from off-campus activities.

"We are not seeing any infections coming from inside our environment. I would suggest that our environment is safe than kids getting together when they are outside of our environment," said Sisson.

According to the Cook County Department of Public Health, this is not considered an outbreak because the 12 cases are not related.

"Everyone that has reported positive infections has told us that they were with groups of kids without masks on in basements or eating out at places like a sandwich shop," Sisson said.

Over the weekend staff contact tracing took place to help control the spread of the virus.

"They have the seating charges, they look through cameras, they talk to coaches, they talk to parents, they go into the classrooms and they measure to see who might be exposed to an infected student," said Sisson.

According to data from the Illinois Department of Public health, there are currently 1,206 schools in the state with potential COVID-19 exposures.

In just Cook County alone, 229 schools have had potential exposure to the virus.

Data from Chicago Public Schools shows nearly 400 schools have had at least one confirmed COVID-19 case.

"This has been an incredible challenge. This has been hard on students, parents school staff, everyone," said Sisson.

But Sisson is asking students to stay on track and follow guidelines.

"You will see them across the street and they will drop their mask because they are with their best friend and they do not know if their friend has been exposed or not, " he said. . "The need to keep their masks on and not congregate for a little while longer."
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