QUINCY — Rising COVID-19 case numbers have created “a tight situation” for Quincy Public Schools.
“We’re seeing our highest positive numbers that we’ve seen since probably November 2020,” Superintendent Roy Webb said.
“We have a lot of subs in the buildings. We have some people covering classes that normally don’t cover classes. Transportation continues to work under shortages,” he said. “We’re dealing with all of those issues.”
In a Facebook post Monday, Webb reported the school district was tracking 139 active positive cases — 30 employees and 109 students. By Tuesday, Webb said the number jumped to 175 — 33 staff and 142 students.
“We’re hoping that this is kind of a peak,” he said. “We’ll be on a plateau for a while and see cases drop off.”
In the meantime, the district will continue to track case numbers and communicate with parents, county health officials and state health officials on exclusion and quarantine recommendations for positive cases and close contacts.
But Webb doesn’t expect changes following the latest executive order issued by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “Things are pretty much staying the same with what we’re doing,” he said.
Pritzker’s latest order, issued Tuesday, says all schools must exclude any student or school personnel who is a close contact for a minimum of five days following exposure. Schools also may permit close contacts who are asymptomatic and exposed in school during the school day to be on the premises provided they test negative at least two times within seven days after the close contact notification/test to stay enrollment, with the last test occurring 5 to 7 days after the last close contact.
Under the order, close contacts do not include:
• A student who was within 3 to 6 feet in a classroom setting for at least 15 minutes with a confirmed or probable case involving another student if both were consistently masked for the entire exposure period.
• Students and staff ages 18 and older who have been vaccinated and boosted.
• A student ages 5 to 17 who has been vaccinated.
• An individual on school transportation who was within 3 to 6 feet for at least 15 minutes with a confirmed or probable case if both were masked and windows were opened to allow for good ventilation.
• An individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days from date of exposure.
• An individual who is solely exposed to a confirmed or probable case while outdoors.
Schools also must exclude any student or school personnel who is a confirmed or probable case, regardless of vaccination status, for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10 days. Students or personnel who are symptomatic can return to school after five days only if they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, if diarrhea or vomiting have ceased for 24 hours and if other symptoms have improved.
“We support that recommendation as a school district and hope everybody follows that, but that’s all we can do,” Webb said.
It’s local or state health officials, not QPS, making the exclusion recommendation.
“That has to come from a different level than the school. If the state feels that it is warranted, they will have to take that action,” he said. “We had a judge in Adams County say that a school district doesn’t have the authority to exclude on their own.”