Unit 5 returns to remote learning

Unit 5 Superintendent Dr. Kristen Weikle announced Friday, Nov. 13, that the district would return to remote learning effective Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Students will not be in attendance Wednesday to allow teachers and staff time to prepare for change. The “adaptive pause” to hybrid learning is tentatively in place until Monday, Dec. 7., according to a district-wide email.

Dr. Weikle’s announcement came as the State of Illinois announced a single-day record of 15,415 new COVID-19 cases. Friday’s Illinois Department of Public Health data marked the fourth consecutive day of record-high one-day case counts and the eighth straight day of more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases.

With a positivity rate of 10.6%, McLean County was included in the State of Illinois 96 county list of counties at warning levels.

According to the Unit 5 COVID Response Dashboard, during the week of Nov. 1, 13 staff members tested positive for COVID-19, with 47 entering quarantine, and 18 students tested positive, with 109 newly in quarantine.

Weikle said in an interview with WGLT that in the last ten days there had been numerous COVID cases in the district: “We’ve had almost 100 students and staff test positive. And then more than 500 students and staff in quarantine because of a close contact with someone who tested positive.”

With the district returning to Stage 1 COVID-19 protocol, all Unit 5 sports and extracurriculars will move to later dates, resuming after Dec. 7. This includes all team practices, games, and club meetings on Unit 5 grounds and off-campus.

Unit 5 will continue offering free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to all students and families. The four pick-up locations will remain the same: Sugar Creek Elementary, Cedar Ridge Elementary, and Normal West High School, from 10:30 AM- 1:30 PM. The nine drop-off meal routes will remain active five days a week.

The district “hopes to be able to return to hybrid learning very soon,” Dr. Weikle said, adding that “the decision will depend on the status of COVID-19 and the guidance we receive from state and local officials.”