Joliet Township High School District 204 became the latest local district to announce it will begin the upcoming school year with entirely remote learning as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Illinois.
JTHS Superintendent Karla Guseman in a message Wednesday on the district website pointed to the rise in local cases as the reason for the change of plans.
"The last week, and this weekend, were extremely difficult for me as I watched the number of COVID-19 cases consistently rise in our region," Guseman said in the message.
She cited Illinois Department of Public Health data that showed Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee counties, has seen several days of an increase in its positivity rate of COVID-19 testing. Guseman called this a "large increase in a short period of time."
The district board voted to begin the school year remotely for the first six weeks of school this week, she said. Every six weeks, the district will evaluate the decision on how to deliver instruction based on IDPH data and the district's ability to implement safety guidelines.
"When it is safe, we will resume in-person instruction following the re-opening plan that we previously shared with you," Guseman said.
JTHS originally approved a plan to deliver remote instruction four days a week and in-person one day a week. Students would also have had the option to partake entirely in remote learning.
"As the superintendent and as a parent, I know the remote start to the school year will be heartbreaking for many," Guseman said. "However, I cannot risk the safety of our students and staff."
Joliet Public School District 86 made a similar change to its plan, originally intending to have students to be in school two days a week. Then the district announced it would begin the year entirely remotely, also citing the rise in COVID-19 cases in Illinois.
Some other Will County school districts have opted for a hybrid route while also allowing families to have their kids participate in remote learning only.