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The Joliet Public Schools District 86 Board voted this week to continue remote learning for its more than 10,000 students through at least mid-January, citing increasing COVID-19 cases in the region.

Superintendent Theresa Rouse reviewed the first trimester midpoint data with the board, including parent/employee survey results and public health data in the region and individual ZIP code areas of Joliet, according to a news release.

Based on the rising COVID-19 test positivity rates, new cases in Joliet and the rise of cases among children, the board unanimously approved Rouse’s recommendation to keep District 86 students in fully remote learning until at least the middle of January.

“As much as we would all like to see students and staff back in our schools, as long as coronavirus cases remain high, it is not safe.” Rouse said in the release. “We will continue to review the data to see when transitioning small groups of students to schools makes sense.”

Similar to other school districts in Will County, District 86 initially planned to deliver instruction using a hybrid model, but rising cases late in the summer persuaded the board to opt for a fully remote learning model to start the year.

“Our main concern is to keep everyone safe and healthy,” said board President Tonya Roberts. “We can’t let our guard down.”

After Will County’s test positivity rate dropped below 6% last month, by mid-October the rate crept up to above 6%.

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