COVID outbreak leads to added precautions around school


Recorded cases and close contacts have spiked among students and staff in the past week.

Marygrace Sarrasin, Assistant News Editor

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises within the Algonquin community, administrators and healthcare professionals race to prevent a surge of the virus. 

According to the District’s Coronavirus Dashboard, Algonquin had 22 positive cases in the week of Sept. 23 to Sept. 29. This creates a total of 30 confirmed cases, and 110 students have been identified as in-school close contacts. The district has had a total of 62 positive COVID-19 cases this school year, with 27 being active as of Sept. 29.

With the recent spike of positive cases, Algonquin has made adjustments to attempt to stop the spread.

  • The C Gym is currently acting as a second cafeteria, as it was for the 2020-2021 school year. 
  • Athletic teams have been banned from hosting at-home pasta parties. 
  • Principal Sean Bevan asked teachers to keep classroom desks separated in rows with three feet of distance between them to reduce the number of close contacts. 

The task of tracing close contacts when many classrooms have desks pushed close together is always a challenge,” Bevan said in an email interview. “Right now, with the uptick in cases, I have asked teachers to only seat students in groups when they are doing a group activity. Otherwise, we are incurring the risk of COVID transmissions for minimal or no instructional benefits. If our COVID data improves, we can perhaps go back to a less restrictive environment.”

On Thursday, Sept. 30, optional COVID-19 test kits were passed out during first period, and students were expected to bring in their tests the morning of Friday, Oct. 1. 

“We had always planned to implement COVID screening this year, and the recent increase in cases compelled us to develop and offer that more quickly than we might have otherwise,” Bevan said. 

The Department of Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE) recently released that the statewide mask mandate for schools will be extended to Nov. 1. Once DESE lifts mask mandates, school communities will use local COVID-19 data to respond. This means that Algonquin’s mask mandate could continue after Nov. 1—an idea that District Wellness Coordinator Mary Ellen Duggan supports. 

“I wholeheartedly support the mask mandate,” Duggan said in an email interview. “We have removed distancing. Before we remove another mitigation, we need to evaluate our data.”

Bevan and Duggan both report that Algonquin is not planning on making any further COVID-19 restrictions. However, an increase in cases may lead to  reevaluation and  further precautions.