District 186 school board members hope ‘downward trend’ of metrics continues

Author: Steven Spearie State Journal-Register

Published at 11:30 p.m. CT December 21, 2020

Springfield School District 186 board members said Monday they liked where a set of metrics governing the in-person return of students Jan. 12 is headed, but remained leery about a post-Christmas and New Year’s spike.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Jennifer Gill will be sending a letter to the 1,300-member Springfield Education Association notifying the union of the district’s intent to return to a hybrid model on Jan. 12, a date the board voted on Dec. 7 as a goal of a starting date.

The letter is required 10 days in advance of the return of students.

The board will have a clearer picture on Jan. 4, its next meeting, about the start date.

Currently, the district is meeting two of the four metrics, or guidelines, it set earlier in the fall. The four metrics are recommended by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Two other metrics in question–the positivity and cases per 100,000 in Sangamon County–are also tumbling, but are still in the “moderate” or “substantial” category.

Another condition guiding the return of students under the hybrid model is that all four metrics have to meet thresholds set by the board, making the Jan. 4 meeting a critical signpost if students are to return by the agreed upon date.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction and we have a good shot (at starting on Jan. 12 or soon after), but I’m speaking for myself,” said president Scott McFarland after Monday’s meeting. “If I get some bad data in front of me in the next week or two, that may change my tune.”

Like a lot of people, McFarland said he thought there was a potential for a spike in COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving, “so I hope for the next holiday coming up, we’ll continue to see that trend line go down, but that’s dependent on what happens in the community.