School districts prepare for COVID-19 vacation outbreak as winter vacation begins

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QUAD CITIES, (KWQC) – Growing number of hospitalizations, cases and deaths from COVID-19 has health experts worried about another holiday spike. The CDC predicts 1.3 million new cases of COVID-19 in the United States by Christmas.

“This is set to be a very deadly COVID Christmas and New Year,” Dr Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said at a press briefing Friday.

As many school districts rent for winter vacation, resuming classes after the January vacation is in question.

“The last thing we want to do is go remote, but if we’re going to maintain a safe environment, we will,” said Dr. Terri Vandewiele, superintendent of the Silvis Community School District.

On Friday, the CDC approved a “test-to-stay” strategy for children in school. Under it, exposed children can stay in school as long as they don’t show symptoms and are negative at least twice a week. Health experts say it will keep children from falling behind as cases are expected to increase during the holidays.

“We absolutely need our schools to be open full time and I will do whatever it takes to keep our doors open for the children,” said Dr. Rachel Savage, Moline-Coal Valley School District Superintendent.

Local districts are prioritizing in-person classes with mitigating measures that they hope will prevent the school from going virtual.

“We make sure children don’t come to school sick, we offer vaccination clinics, encouraging eligible people to get a booster shot,” said Dr Savage.

“Ensuring that students and staff have the opportunity to wash their hands frequently and practice good hygiene,” added Dr. Michelle Morse, superintendent of the Bettendorf Community School District.

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