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Heyworth school district returns to online learning after spike in COVID-19 cases

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HEYWORTH (WEEK) -- Heyworth students are learning online this week because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the school district.

Superintendent Lisa Taylor said 17 students and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week.

She said she's not sure if it's spreading in the schools or in the community.

"We had to consult with the health department late yesterday and decided it's the right time for an adaptive pause when you see a quick increase," Taylor said.

"It gives you some time to do a few things: Disinfect, deep clean, contact trace," she added.

Taylor said while most parents have been understanding about the sudden switch back to remote learning, some parents were frustrated after Monday's announcement.

"We have to make the decisions that put the safety of students and staff first, and they have to trust us to make those decisions," Taylor said.

McLean County Regional Superintendent Mark Jontry said going online will also make it easier for the district to staff classroom as they've struggled to find substitute teachers this year.

"I know that was one of the concerns of the superintendent in trying to continue in person for the rest of this week if they lost anymore staff to positive cases," Jontry said.

Taylor said the outbreaks are mainly at the elementary level, so those students will return to class Monday if cases do not continue to increase.

She said junior and senior high school students will go back this Thursday.

Jontry said all school buildings will be cleaned thoroughly while students are at home.

He said changes to mask and social distancing policies when students return will not be necessary.

Darnysha Mitchell

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