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All Unit 5 students return to e-learning next week as COVID cases climb

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NORMAL (HOI) - All students in McLean County's largest school district will return to all remote learning starting next week because of what the district said is an "alarming rise" in local COVID-19 cases.

All Unit 5 students will have the day off next Wednesday so teachers and staff can transition again to e-learning, which will start on Thursday. Remote instruction will remain in place until Monday, December 7, the district said.

In a Facebook post, the district said the decision is the result of new guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health recommending people to stay at home as much as possible. Also, the statement said the McLean County Health Department reached out to Unit 5 "to share the urgency of the local COVID situation and suggested we re-think whether we should be in-person."

The county's health department reported Friday that there were 120 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total of probable and confirmed cases to 6,216.

Nine people are hospitalized and 1,353 people are isolating at home, the health department said. The rolling seven-day positivity rate through Thursday was at 10.6%, according to the health department.

"Please know that we are taking this action to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and families," school administrators said.

"We know that this decision will please some and anger others, but health and safety must be the priority," the district said.

More information is available on Unit 5's website.

Howard Packowitz

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