MINOOKA – Tonight the Minooka Education Association (MEA) President Dave Barney will speak at the board meeting and encourage the Minooka Community High School District 111 Board of Education to continue remote learning instead of moving to a hybrid learning plan.
District 111 serves more than 2,700 students from Grundy, Kendall and Will Counties. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the current COVID-19 positivity rates in those counties are 8.6%, 6.7% and 8.8% respectively. Grundy’s and Will’s county rates are so high, they are currently under warning level by the State of Illinois. All three counties are above the 5% threshold set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and IDPH.
Students started the year in full remote learning on Aug. 11. However, on Sept. 14, the district wants to switch to a hybrid learning plan.
“It is simply not safe to bring our students back to learn in person. Lives are at risk,” MEA President Dave Barney said. “We do not have a well thought out plan to do contact tracing within our schools. And with positivity rates so high, it’s not a matter of if there will be an outbreak in school, but when.”
The Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) panel reviewed District 111’s return to learn plan and on Aug. 14 issued findings that found nearly 15 safety violations that needed to be corrected in order to return to in-person learning safely. MEA has been pushing for those changes to be made, but still there are several safety concerns, including a lack of cleanliness and major issues with the HVAC system at South Campus that need to be repaired.
“Between the positivity rates and the safety issues in our buildings, I know if we do go through with the hybrid plan and bring students back, it will only be a matter of time before the buildings get shut down again,” Barney said. “What our students, our staff and our community need now is consistency. The coach in me says, ‘Let’s pick something and become really good at it.’ Bouncing back and forth between in-person and hybrid for the year will cause all sorts of unnecessary struggle.”
The MEA represents about 160 teachers, social workers, deans and counselors within District 111. Tonight’s board meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Minooka High School Central Campus (301 S. Wabena Ave., Minooka).
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.